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Inclusive mental health approach recognises Muslim needs

Isra'a Emhail, Digital Journalist

A Muslim social worker wants an inclusive mental health model to be adopted amid concerns that there aren't enough culturally-specialised services for those affected by the Christchurch terror attacks.

People gather outside Al Noor Mosque Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Last month, about 50 people gathered to talk about needs for Muslims, and worries were raised that there were not enough culturally-specific services to help the community deal with the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attacks at two mosques, which left 51 dead.

Auckland-based counsellor Jasmine Faiza has developed a model for social service agencies to help Muslims in a way that acknowledges any stigma around mental health issues, as well as cultural barriers.

Ms Faiza said she has been pushing for her model to be adopted.

"Social services or any counselling services ... should have things for Muslims as well that are culturally appropriate.

"I think there's a need for more education, more workshops, [and] more inclusive social services with Muslims.



"I would like to share [the model] with the mainstream because that model has seen an unseen paradigm with what's happening in both cultures."

Her proposed "poi model" was suitable for Māori and non-Māori including Muslims, she said. It had two circles which outlined a process for calming the mind and slowing down thinking process, and also gives guidance for how experts should talk to affected families.

The Muslim "poi" has a centre with "fitra" and revolves around the Islamic belief that people are born with purity and innocence and viewed positively.

"I feel that if this model is utilised in social service agencies, it will be great. We don't have to borrow resources from overseas when we can utilise this within our cultures in our country," Ms Faiza said.

She said she had also seen the struggle some Muslims have connecting with mental health experts.

"I mean having that grief, they have either connected with their whānau ... more, and just kept that connection going and that's the way they express their grief.

"Some get more attached to the masjid or mosque, so acknowledging their background, I think that would be helpful [for agencies]."

She said the model would also be used as part of her degree.

It was earlier reported that the Ministry of Health was working with local providers to ensure services were available to address immediate mental health needs.

The national mental health helpline has provided more than 12,000 counselling sessions since the 15 March attacks.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.


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