Challenging the stigma of mental illness

Pic: Lucy Johnson

Mind Tower Hamlets held an event as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. Pic: Lucy Johnson

The Tower Hamlets branch of  Mind, the mental health charity, and the Muslim community group Maslaha are seeking to challenge the stigmas associated with mental illness and reach out to the most isolated and least resourced people in the community.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week  the local branch of Mind, has hosted a day where residents can try out and hear from various service providers in the borough. “Health and Wellbeing Day” promotes mental health treatment and the importance of maintaining good health.

Abdirashid Gulaid, Support Services Manager at Mind Tower Hamlets, explained the purpose of the event: “The idea is for service users who often are isolated and excluded to come out and tap into these services by either taking information or having some kind of taster sessions.”

One of the many organisations at the event was Maslaha, a social enterprise working to support the Muslim community in the borough.

Project developer Sarah Hobbs explained that the organisation was taking part in the event to raise awareness of the stigmas attached to mental health, and how this is a prevalent issue in the Muslim community.

Hobbs also noted that the communities Maslaha works with are “most isolated, the ones that had least resources available, and the least support available to themselves.”

She also pointed out that it is crucial for mental health professionals to be aware of people’s sensitivities:  “It’s important not only what’s said but also how it’s said and who says it.”

Maslaha also work with local imams and religious leaders to find out what techniques work best for local diaspora communities.

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 13–19 May.

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