Toolkit for providing mental health care to Muslim patients launched



– A toolkit that seeks to help clinicians provide culturally and religiously informed mental health care for Muslim patients was officially launched at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

Rania Awaad, MD, and Belinda S. Bandstra, MD, sat down at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association to discuss how to use the toolkit and why it – and other resources on providing nuanced mental health care – are needed.

Vidyard Video

In this video, Dr. Awaad explores some of the origins of Islamophobia in the United States and how she came to do this work while in medical school. The travel ban affecting mostly Muslim countries has had a ripple effect on community members, she said. “The feeling is ‘My country isn’t named in the travel ban, but will I be next?’ ”

In addition to the fear and distrust fostered by the political climate are the challenges of abiding by the Islamic faith’s precepts.

“Patients will just do things on their own – and not consult their clinician,” Dr. Awaad said, referring to those might change the times in which they take medication during the sacred month of Ramadan because of fasting that is expected of observant Muslims. “It’s important for the patients to know that anyone acutely ill is exempt from fasting.” Medical- and faith-based consultation are important for these patients, Dr. Awaad said, pointing to a recent article that outlines best practices for treating patients with psychiatric disorders during Ramadan (Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 May 2. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366[19]30161-0).

She also discussed “Islamophobia and Psychiatry” (Springer, 2019), a book she coedited that she said provides evidence of the detrimental effect that Islamophobia has on the mental health of Muslims.

Dr. Awaad is director of the Muslim Mental Health Lab and Wellness Program and codirector of the Diversity Clinic at Stanford (Calif.) University. Dr. Bandstra is assistant director of residency training in Stanford’s department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Dr. Awaad and Dr. Bandstra had no relevant disclosures.

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