Why 1/3 - Event This Weekend

Did you know that there are 1/3 of Somali people suffering from some type of mental disorder?

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be suffering from a Mental Disorder in Somalia before the late 80s? How different do you think it would have been to the present day?

We tend to as people try to justify the existence of mental illness in the Somali community by putting the blame on the decades of war, hunger, Khat and the lack of basic day to day stability. Instead of focusing on the actual issue and finding solutions for how to provide the right treatment for people suffering from a Mental Disorder.

In Somalia, the Mentally Ill patients are dehumanised; they are alienated from their community and made to feel ostracised. This cruel act has become part of our culture for a very long time, to the point where it has become a social norm. Many mentally ill Somalis have to also deal with the powerful stigma surrounding mental illness. The stigma prevents many from seeking the necessarily help they require only to avoid being labeled crazy. It leads others to develop far more complex disorders caused by self-imposed isolation. It also leads to people being in denial about their health issues, which can cause severe psychological and physical illnesses.

”Whether the ostracism is created by the community or self-imposed due to anticipated negative responses, the social isolation creates a profound worsening of mental illness. This social isolation can be very disorienting and can make the process of healing very difficult.”

One reason why Somali’s are unable to understand the concept of Mental Disorders could be due to the fact that we relate behavioural changes to evil sprit (jin, il, fal). We immediately turn to traditional and religious treatments, without understanding the cause of those behavioural changes. Although some of those behavioural changes may in fact be related to spirits and be treated with “ruqya”,  this is not always the case for all Mental Health Disorders.

Muslim scholars, such as Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna – the founder of modern medicine), rejected the concept of categorising mental illness as possession and bad spirits and viewed mental disorders as conditions that were physiologically based.

So instead of justifying and blaming Mental Disorders on uncontrollable factors, such as the war and natural disasters (draught/famine). We can address the issues we can control, such as changing our mindset and learning how to help people who are affected by this illness by providing treatment that does not leave them harmed or isolated.

 Allah (SWT) said: “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves”

In another words our culture does not acknowledge mental illness as an illness and it’s time that it did!


Mental Health And The Somali Community

This is an educational event, where doctors and experts will discuss mental health issues. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness about mental health within the somali community in the UK. This event is part of the campaign HADHIBIN QOF DHIBAN and is powered by Hersare Organization

HADHIBIN QOF DHIBAN is an international mental health awareness camping for Somalis around the world. The aim of the campaign is to end discrimination against the mentally ill, to encourage people to open up about mental illness and stop the stigma.

Entertainment: poetry/open mic hour

Location: Karibu Education Centre, 7 Gresham Road, Brixton, London SW9 7P

Date and time: Saturday 21st March 2015 at 17:00–22:30

By Suhur Beyleh
Edited by Amelle Ismail

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