Educaid Australia facilitated a special Suicide prevention workshop for Imams and Community Leaders “Mental Health First Aid for the Suicidal Person” in collaboration with the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) on Sunday 23 August 2020.

A group of 12 Imams and leaders attended the evidence-based workshop that equipped them with the skills to intervene and support individuals who are experiencing a crisis.

Delivered by Educaid Au’s Co-founder and Principal Instructor, Ziyad Serhan, the session addressed key areas such as:  identifying warning signs of suicide, how to confidently intervene and support someone experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviours, and ways to transition them to appropriate professional help.

The workshop was a rare opportunity for leaders of the Islamic community in Sydney to come together and learn the skills to intervene and support an individual in crisis.

The robust discussions and insights shared by participants who represented 11 different community organisations, mosques and centres throughout the day was a positive step in the right direction in starting a unique conversation within our faith-based spaces.

In a post survey evaluation, Mobinah Ahmad (Managing Editor, Australasian Muslim Times AMUST) said “It was a privilege to attend this course, to listen to a well presented and informative workshop on suicide. Even though I had certain background knowledge, doing this course added to that and gave me a lot more confidence to talk about this. It provided me with a lot of clarity.”

A common concern among leaders was understanding their role in assisting individuals with mental health challenges and individuals experiencing a crisis of suicidal ideation. It is often that we are unsure how to deal with certain challenging circumstances, and it is a testament to the community leaders willingness to learn and leadership for identifying their boundaries and reaching out to learn more about others the services available for people to seek the intervention they require.

With the current heightened climate due to COVID-19, the embracing of these conversations and workshops is as important as ever.

As part of Educaid Au’s work in educating and creating awareness in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, it continues to emphaise the importance of bridging the gap between community and already existing services. For this reason, invitations were extended to representatives from two crisis services to inform participants of crisis intervention and supports they provide to communities.

Ryan Roumieh (Suicide Prevention Services Coordinator, Lifeline Macarthur), presented to the group about the types of services and supports Australia’s leading suicide prevention service provides to all Australians experiencing a personal crisis.

Hayat Line’s Operations Manager, Mariam Ardati, shared examples of cases within the Muslim community who are struggling with mental illness and experience suicidal ideation and the need for culturally sensitive services. Participants were informed that Hayat Line is a free and confidential crisis support line for Muslims in Australia supporting individuals when experiencing a personal crisis or emotional distress.

By starting the important conversation around Suicide amongst leaders, we hope the impact of breaking down the stigma and better addressing mental health related issues will be felt across communities.

Summed up very nicely and after attending the workshop, Imam Tahar Mechraoui (Imam- Carramar Mosque) stated “Life is a gift, and we are all responsible to save it”. Let us all be that support for those who need it during their difficult times” after attending the workshop.

Educaid Australia remains committed in their mission of increasing mental health literacy in school, community and workplaces. Reach out via email info@educaidau.com to find out about our programs, courses and initiatives.

If you or a friend are experiencing a crisis and need support, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or you can visit www.lifeline.org.au and initiate an online chat or text. You can also contact Mission of Hope’s Hayat Line between 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday on 1300 993 398 or you can visit www.missionofhope.org.au.