A NEW report has suggested that there is an unaddressed mental health crisis among young people in the British Muslim community.

The report, commissioned by British Muslims for Secular Democracy, has been written by six authors - all of whom are British Muslim women - and aims to "change the narrative" surrounding mental health for the UK's Muslim population.

Although the report acknowledges that mental health can affect anyone and everyone - irrespective of race or religion - it does argue that Islamophobia and racism, a climate of fear and suspicion, identity issues, family pressures and a lack of trust between young Muslims and service providers are all combining to create a mental health crisis for British Muslims.

One of the report's authors is Bradford-born journalist Anila Baig, who argues that many young British Muslims feel "suffocated" by their home lives, which may sometimes be stricter than those of their white and non-Muslim counterparts.

Anila, who is British-Pakistani, says that family pressures may lead to some British Muslims leading "double lives", where they feel compelled to hide things such as relationships, their sexualities or their ways of life from their families.

She adds that this has only increased in the wake of lockdown, and that these issues must be addressed as soon as possible to avoid the "inevitable" mental health problems that she says will follow.

The report also argues that the way we look at mental health fails to consider factors which may disproportionately affect minorities. It quotes Jenny Roe, writing in The Lancet, saying, "statistics on child and adolescent mental health by ethnicity are woefully lacking in the UK, with the last comprehensive national study done 14 years ago."

It is also claimed that a climate of fear and suspicion - which the report says has worsened since the War on Terror - has not only led to a breakdown in trust between some communities in the western world, but has also caused "huge problems" for British Muslims when it comes to their mental health.

"For large numbers of British Muslims, ever since the War on Terror, Islam and all its believers have been suspected and blamed", it is argued.

"Young people are afraid to access services for help and support because of Prevent, part of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy, in case they say something wrong."

Author Tanvir Malik Mukhtar also argues that if some Muslims experience racism and exclusion, it may lead them to look for acceptance elsewhere, which could potentially romanticise extremism or gang affiliation, which may offer a false sense of "support and brotherhood."

The authors add that young British Muslims want more "honesty, openness and understanding" from their elders - arguing that "Islamophobia and lack of opportunity do corrode confidence and hope, but so too do authoritarian upbringings and over-strict religious expectations."

The report's editor, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, concludes: "We should stop being fixated on security and develop holistic approaches which reach the human in the usually disembodied and de-personalised Muslim fanatic.

"Young Muslims who are drawn to destructive and self-destructive missions, or are suffering from mental distress, need to be reached long before the first steps into darkness."