This week is Mental Health Week in Scotland and in line with its aims of tackling the stigma surrounding mental health issues, SNP MSP Humza Yousaf has been working in conjunction with the Muslim Council of Scotland resulting in an agreement that Mosques across Scotland would coordinate their Friday sermons to talk about the issue of Mental Health stigma.
Imams across Mosques in Scotland will use their sermon during Friday prayers to tackle the issue of stigma and mental health in the Muslim community.
Shaykh Amer Jamil, an Islamic Scholar from Glasgow commented: "Imams and religious scholars have an important role to play in tackling mental health stigma amongst the Muslim community as they are often the first point of contact for families who have a relative displaying signs of a mental health condition."
"Unfortunately, much more education is needed and I believe the Mosques could be an important vehicle to get information out to Imams about detecting signs of different mental health conditions."
"Thousands of worshippers attend Friday prayers, so it is a fantastic platform to address the community, this will be an important first step and I hope will lead to some positive change to some of the attitudes to mental health within the Muslim community."
Humza Yousaf added: "We all know that stigma surrounding those with a mental health issue is a serious problem that needs tackling in our society. However, the stigma related to those from within the BME community, who suffer from a mental health issue, can be even worse."
"I’ve heard countless stories of families being completely ignorant of the different mental health condition that exist. As a result many of them turn to Imams and community elders instead of seeking help from their GP. Furthermore, many families believe that so-called black magic or a perceived lack of faith is to blame, when the person suffering really needs medical attention."
"In addition, once diagnosed many families decide to isolate the relative suffering due to concepts such as so-called 'family honour' and 'shame'."
"I congratulate the Imams and Mosques who are taking this vital step in ridding stigma from our community. No subject should be taboo in our communities and certainly nothing as important as helping those with a mental health condition."
"I’m always happy to be working alongside the 'See Me' campaign and I very much believe that we will remove mental health stigma from our society once and for all."
Suzie Vestri, Campaign Director at ‘See Me’ said: "See Me' is grateful for the support of the Muslim Council of Scotland and Humza Yousaf MSP in getting this very serious issue addressed in Mosques during Scottish Mental Health Week."
"Too many people experience stigma and discrimination due to mental illness just at the time when they most need support from friends and family members. Imams play a key role in their communities and 'See Me' hopes that their support this week is the start of joint effort to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health."