SHAFAQNA – On March 7, the Muslim Food Bank’s (MFB) ASPIRE program held its first symposium on addictions and mental health issues within the Muslim community and introduced the new HOPE program which seeks to address these issues specifically among Muslim youth.
The Muslim Food Bank Society is a non-profit registered charity which aims to help those in need and provide a path – through these programs – for the Muslim community to play a substantial role in providing assistance to those who seek it.
The symposium, held at Surrey Central Library, was attended by Surrey-Green Timbers NDP MLA Sue Hammell and Newton-North Delta MP Jinny Sims.
Hammell applauded the efforts put forward by the MFB.
“This program is just what any community needs,” she said.
Sims lent her support to the program and its focus on emphasizing the importance of building collaborations and partnerships.
“Mental illness is a growing disease… hitting all communities. We are all neighbors, let’s work together,” she said.
The symposium was an opportunity for members of the health care and Muslim communities to engage in open discussion, share perspectives and experiences, and collectively offer solutions and future directions for growth.
The panel of speakers included MFB executives Azim Dahya and Asad Asadullah, UBC assistant professor and psychiatrist Dr. Sheik Hosenbocus, Fraser Health social worker Sana Siddiqui and SFU doctoral candidate Ehsan Jozaghi.
The speakers discussed various factors contributing to the challenges faced by Canadian Muslims such as Islamophobia, generational conflicts, and cross-cultural communication and identity.
The importance of building and restoring trust, and finding issues that are common across cultures were highlighted as a means of increasing access and decreasing feelings of isolation and other barriers to health care.
Speakers touched upon community transformation using a holistic, faith-based approach.
Dahya signified HOPE’s role as “a light” that aimed to bring “progressive change to the community” by providing a confidential space for its clients, connecting them with relevant resources, and supporting them through their path to recovery.
Hosenbocus also discussed how the process of rehabilitation falls entirely within the framework of Islamic values and the importance of understanding mental health as a branch of physical well-being.