A project to help Muslim men and women with mental health problems starts in Bradford this week and could help prevent tragedies such as the death of grieving mum Sobia Yousef.
Sharing Voices, a mental health help group formed in 2002 which offers broad-based support has set up a new service specifically for Muslims, said Bradford Councillor Mohammad Shabbir, who works for the charity.
“We think this is the first attempt at such a thing in the UK,” Coun Shabbir said.
“Sharing Voices has set up Bradford Community Therapeutic Services, which begins work this week.
“This is an attempt to bring together professionals from different areas to provide cultural services to the community.
“Previously we have offered non-medical intervention, but BCTS will offer the possibility of professional therapy.
“And the first step in offering care for individual communities – be that South Asian, Afro-Caribbean or any group – is the Ihsaan initiative, which is targeted at the Muslim community.”
Coun Shabbir said mental health issues did not have any particular stigma with Islamic cultures, however Muslims often felt it difficult to deal with conventional treatment which did not include any level of religious understanding.
“Ihssan means a perfect wholeness of being, and we will offer fully-trained clinical therapists and staff who can cater for young and old, male and female muslim people with the necessary respect and appropriate behaviour to meet their needs,” he said.
“Whereas Sharing Voices is funded by the NHS, Ihsaan will be self-funding from contributions or donations.”
Coun Shabbir said that mental care centres such as Lynfield Mount, where Sobia Yousef was treated, offered secular care for mental health patients, but there was real need for a tailored approach to tackle the needs of different faiths and communities.
“Ihsaan will be the first in a process for BCTS and ultimately we hope to have dedicated teams of therapists for all the identity groups in Bradford.”
Sobia Yousef, 36, stabbed herself to death at the Asda supermarket in Shipley last week. She had been grief-stricken since the death of her youngest child last year – a girl born with a terminal condition who survived to the age of nine.
He said: “They are a well-respected family and Sobia’s mother is a well-known member of the community.
“Sobia left behind a 15-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, and at the moment they might not be able to talk about it, but at some point they will want to understand why their mother took her life.”
For details on the Ihsaan project call (01274) 731166 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.