Muslim Mental Health Conference to focus on civil justice abuses in D.C.

The Muslim Mental Health Conference, an international meeting established at Michigan State University 10 years ago, has grown in size and scope. From March 15-17, faith leaders, health care providers and researchers will gather at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., the first ever MSU event to be held there.

The conference theme is, "Out of the Shackles: Pursuit of Civil Justice in the Face of Psychological Trauma." It will include breakout sessions, poster presentations and film screenings.

Because of the first-responder role that chaplains, community leaders and Islamic clergy members play, the conference will include learning sessions for them on empathic listening, preliminary counseling, suicide prevention training and community engagement.

Farha Abbasi, an assistant professor of psychiatry and the conference's founding director, noted that the role that Imams play during crises will be addressed during the event.

"In times of crisis, we estimate that 60 percent of Americans turn first to their religious leader for advice and direction," she said. "Because of this, we have added a disaster training to the conference agenda to augment the ability of the Islamic centers to step in the case of natural disasters."

The Muslim Mental Health Conference was created to serve the goals of promoting awareness and acceptance of mental illnesses, fighting stigma and improving access to treatment for members of the Muslim community, as well as the community at large. This conference also offers cultural competency training for other providers to learn about how to provide culturally appropriate care to Muslim patients.

Abbasi believes that holding the conference in Washington will bring in new participants, increasing engagement and networking.

"We now have the enough research data to impact policies. We hope to advocate for a proactive mental health policy for mental wellbeing of the Muslims in America," she said.

The registration fee is $250 for faculty, staff, religious leaders or other professionals and $75 for students.

To register, learn about volunteering opportunities or get more information about the conference, visit www.psychiatry.msu.edu/ events or call 517-353-4363. Those interested can also email msummhconference@gmail.com.

Published: Tue, Mar 13, 2018

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