Mental Health and the Muslim Community

Mental Health and the Muslim Community

Lisa St. George, MSW, CPRP & Aneesah Nadir, MSW, PhD

Muslims have a long history of caring for people with significant mental health challenges in way that mirror the recovery culture and environments that are being established today. However, many Muslims have forgotten this historical belief in recovery, good care, and hope. With the immense stigma and hate mongering against Muslims, and the stigma within their own community, it is tremendously difficult for Muslims with mental health challenges to seek care inside the community or outside. This layered stigma creates immense barriers, fear, and discomfort for Muslims who may be experiencing tremendous difficulties to reach out for needed help.

These barriers are even more significant because of the tremendous trauma that exists in the Muslim community. The refugees who come to the United States have experienced violence and fear unimaginable to most Americans. Using the ACEs study as a basis of measuring results of violence and trauma in childhood, and the significant body of knowledge gained from studying trauma and PTSD, we are presented with a massive need for trauma support for adults and children who are immigrants. However, even Muslim Americans, experience significant trauma from violence, the constant news about wars, hate, and bigotry being expressed by candidates for the highest office in the land, news stations, and interviews with people who are not well informed, increases the fear of reaching out and saying help is needed.

Muslim communities are beginning to take notice of the risks to the mental health of their congregation and steps are being taken to help leaders understand the need for wise and thoughtful care. Steps are being taken to increase understanding of available services. However, strong advocacy is necessary to prevent individuals seeking assistance from receiving help by individuals who do not understand Islam, make judgements about Muslim people, or who hate Muslims because of ignorance and bigotry.


  1. Participants will understand the concept of mental health challenges within the modern Muslim community in contrast with historic understanding of mental health challenges.
  2. Participants will gain insight into the idea of layered stigma and how communities of color are impacted by this every day. The barriers that layered stigma create for Muslims who may need support to reach out for assistance will be discussed.
  3. Participants will explore the complex trauma within the Muslim community.
  4. Participants will be provided with helpful hints to support Muslims with mental health challenges should they work with a Muslim and perhaps their family or supporters.
  5. Participants will develop a brief action plan together to help address and decrease stigma so that the barriers for seeking help are reduced.

Methods of facilitation: Didactic, interactive, and collaborative interaction PowerPoint, discussion, and flip chart interaction

Handouts / Course Materials:

Link to brief presenter bios: Lisa St. George [ Aneesah Nadir, MSW, PhD