1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression each year and 1 in 10 children aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder.
Mental health problems are often unrecognised and undiagnosed within our community. This may be due to lack of awareness or fear of discrimination related to the stigma of mental illness.
The Health Improvement Board (HIB) of COEJ, in association with the World Federation Capacity Building Team, have developed a ‘Wellbeing Project’ in the last year to begin to address the above problem.
Maria Pattinson, who is an Approved Mental Health First Aid England instructor (www.mhfaengland.org) and Dr Teizeem Dhanji (Senior Registrar in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry) have so far run two, residential Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses, aimed at building awareness and capacity for recognising & managing mental health issues within our community.
The first MHFA course on 11-12 April 2015 was attended by 16 volunteers from jamaats across the UK and Sweden. The Second course was a Youth MHFA Course aimed at training youth mentors within our community, who would then be equipped with the necessary skills to help support young people suffering from mental and emotional distress. This took place on 30-31 January 2016 and was well attended by Youth Mentors involved in Camp COEJ and the Madinah & Bab-al-Ilm Camp.
The MHFA course is part of a wider ‘Wellbeing project’, with hopes that those going through the training can be supported to sustain long-term changes within the community, and continue to raise awareness by developing projects related to mental & emotional wellbeing.
Preliminary outcome data suggests that those trained in MHFA (or Youth MHFA – awaiting 6 month follow up) have increased awareness and knowledge of mental health, and more positive attitudes to those in need of support, following the course and at 6 months follow up.
We were fortunate that during the Youth MHFA course, Youth Mentors were able to meet with renowned Scholars and Resident Alims of various jamaats, to share ideas about the extent of the unmet need in regards to Mental Health support and awareness within our community. Inshallah we hope to continue to support bridging the gap and continuing conversations between those trained in MHFA and Scholars. We also hope to run a MHFA course for Scholars later this year, as this was highlighted as an important step towards helping increase their awareness and knowledge, in supporting people within their communities.
“…has definitely helped shift my mindset towards being more aware of Mental Health both in myself and others around me. It has also made me a more active preacher of tackling Mental Health issues.”
“…It was very helpful to gain a deep understanding of the different mental health conditions and disorders along with their symptoms.”
“I found the course extremely eye opening…The statistics were damming and hearing from the range of experiences from the patients suffering depression helped give an insight into how tough it is to live with a mental health condition… A life changing experience to say the least. To develop the course I would recommend an extra day of training to be able to consolidate what we have learnt.”
“This course personally helped me in many areas of weakness I had and will allow me to understand and support those who go through mental health problems in a better way.”
“Thank you for organising this much needed course.”