Faith Equity in Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing

MMC response to the government’s discussion paper on the 10-year mental health and wellbeing plan

In April 2022, the UK government published a discussion paper on a proposed 10 year plan for mental health, alongside a call for evidence with specific questions on the proposal. MMC responded to this call, which can be seen here.

Who Are MMC?

Muslim Mind Collaborative (MMC) are a collective which aim to widen the parameters of the agenda on mental health to consider the needs of faith communities. MMC was formed as a result of years of research and community consultations conducted into the mental health and wellbeing of British Muslims. We present an authentic and credible voice in mental health, drawing on academia, statutory services, community practitioners, faith leaders, faith-led and psychotherapy services, our partners in the children’s care sector and those with lived experience.

10 Year Plan

MMC welcomes the Government’s call for evidence to inform its ten year plan to improve mental health in England. In particular, we are pleased to see the Government rightly acknowledge the need to support communities at greatest risk.

British Muslims and Mental Health

A recent report into the mental health struggles of young British Muslims undertaken by Better Community Business Network (BCBN) revealed that four in five young Muslim people said they had suffered with mental health struggles, with 64% of survey participants in the study disclosing they had experienced suicidal thoughts. It also found that Muslim young people are three times more likely to look for support from friends than accessing services, with roughly the same amount of young people then not getting access to therapy. Three in five young Muslims (61%), say it is important to them that mental health services display cultural/faith sensitivity. MMC argues that a mental health plan which accounts for the diversity of experience amongst young people in England, and which focuses on faith and intersectionality, is key to achieving equitable outcomes in mental wellbeing.

1) Address root causes

  • Mental health issues are compounded amongst Muslim communities who face greater barriers to health, education, employment and housing.
  • The latest research shows that approximately 50% of Muslims in Britain live in poverty. (Muslims in Numbers, MCB report).
  • The Government must ensure wider contributing factors, and a faith sensitive picture of mental health, is part of their plan to ensure good mental health outcomes for those most impacted.
  • There is a need to acknowledge the barriers faced by many in seeking support for their mental health, especially for young people who experience adverse childhood experiences and attachment disruptions.

2) Diverse experiences require diverse responses

  • Acknowledging diversity of experience should be at the forefront of efforts in the drive for positive mental wellbeing. This includes paying attention to both individual needs and community context and will undoubtedly involve recognising important aspects of identity, including faith.
  • Faith can be used as a tool to leverage better mental wellbeing in many instances and MMC would be pleased to see the Government acknowledging the role this plays in resilience and mental health.
  • Training, interventions, education and awareness programmes must not fall into a ´one size fits all´ approach.

3) Early intervention

  • The work to prevent the onset of mental health conditions must exist outside of the NHS and be faith and culture sensitive to be truly effective.
  • This should include a focus on providing IAPT programmes, peer support via community faith settings and wellbeing services to ensure equitable access to support services.
  • As well as signposting, a drive to ensure diverse communities are educated, well-informed, and possess the language to talk about mental health, through targeted interventions as well as public-health campaigns, is key to ensuring early detection amongst the public.
  • Mental health services must expand and increase to ensure they are reaching children, young people and families at an early stage, before unhelpful ways of coping become entrenched, and to offer accessible and appropriate support.

4) Destigmatise grassroots investment

  • For some communities who might anticipate not being understood by, or prejudice from mainstream mental health support providers, efforts need to be made at a local community level to build bridges to mainstream support at the same time as encouraging the development of locally based faith and culture sensitive services.
  • Key links should also be made between mental health trusts, general practitioners and community and faith leaders.

5) Research and data collection

  • Research and data collection is key to ensuring the best outcomes for those with mental health conditions.
  • Surveys and research of client needs and follow up plans should be part of efforts to do this, as should further research into the barriers to seeking help for marginalised communities.

6) Summary

  • MMC looks forward to providing further lived-experience, professional and academic insight and expertise to ensure the Government achieves its aim to address health disparities across the country and to improve the mental wellbeing of the nation by 2030.

We are pleased to see that Rethink Mental Illness has also acknowledged MMC’s collective response in their submission and approach to adequate and effective mental health support provision of all communities: