Researchers, students, mental health professionals and religious leaders will gather at the East Lansing Marriott at University Place, April 13-14 to attend the ninth annual Muslim Mental Health Conference.
The conference was created to promote awareness and acceptance of mental illnesses, fight stigma and improve access to treatment for members of the Muslim community.
Farha Abbasi, assistant professor of psychiatry and founding director of the conference, says that because of the vital role imams, spiritual leaders, play in the Muslim community, the conference’s first day will be dedicated to educating them in basic mental health training and substance abuse awareness. The second day will be focused on the latest research surrounding addiction in the Muslim community.
Abbasi believes this conference will help decrease disparities in the medical world.
“It is the only conference of its kind, which is faith-based, yet also very academic,” Abbasi said. “This helps to promote a disease model for mental illnesses, give visibility to important topics like domestic violence, substance abuse and LGBT issues — all of which are considered taboo and kept buried in secrecy and shame.”
Abbasi established the conference because she believes the shame and stigma surrounding mental illnesses are the biggest barriers when it comes to accessing care.
Though the conference is focused on the Muslim community, Abbasi said that it is a very interfaith initiative and the information can be applied to any community setting.
“Everyone can learn and benefit from this innovative approach to mental health care,” she said.
The registration fee is $150 for faculty, staff, religious leaders or other professionals and $50 for students.
The Muslim Mental Health Conference is sponsored by the MSU Department of Psychiatry, the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Institute of Muslim Mental Health.