Australian Islamic Medical Association (AIMA) organised a Mental Health awareness session, “Feeling down in lockdown”, for the community on 9 October 2021. The purpose of the session was to explain the effects of lockdown on mental health and the prism of mental health from the Islamic perspective. This session also highlighted the ways to identify mental health concerns and where and when to seek help.
The online event was attended by many community members, including representatives and office bearers of various community organisations.
The programme commenced with the recitation of the Quran by Qari Shafeeq, followed by a welcome from Dr Jaweria Shoaib, a psychiatry trainee and a member of AIMA who was the host for the session.
She welcomed everyone and provided a brief update on the event’s purpose, especially the impact of the lockdown on mental health in NSW and Victoria and the need for education and awareness sessions to benefit community members. She then introduced Dr Nadir Hafiz, Consultant Psychiatrist based in Sydney and executive committee member of AIMA NSW.
Dr Nadir further explained that the objective and purpose of AIMA is to unite and inspire Muslim health professionals in Australia. In addition, he stated that AIMA members wish to serve and contribute towards the welfare of Muslims and the broader Australian community.
He further highlighted the burden of mental health illnesses and their effect on physical health, emotional health and family relationships and emphasised the importance of appropriate prevention and health education programs in reducing the impact of mental health.
Dr Nadir introduced Dr Omer Shareef, the keynote speaker at the health education seminar, who spoke on the topic “Feeling down in lockdown.”
Dr Shareef, is a consultant Neuropsychiatrist based in Queensland. He has extensively trained and worked in India, UK and Australia. He is interested in mental health problems in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities and Islamic mental health perspectives.
Dr Shareef explained common mental health conditions, when to seek help and emphasised the need to see a family doctor (GP) ensure physical and mental health screening is undertaken early to avoid more severe untreated mental health illness. Dr Shareef provided Islamic and spiritual perspectives regarding mental health.
He also clarified common misconceptions and myths about the mental health conditions in the community, especially in CALD communities and within the Muslim community.
Dr Shareef encouraged the audience to be aware of various risk factors for mental health conditions and seek appropriate professional help in the form of medical/psychologist help when symptoms suggest a mental health problem.
He provided an overview of various treatment modalities available for mental health conditions, including psychology, family support, medication, and other support organisations.
An interactive Q&A session followed Dr Shareef’s presentation. This session generated significant interest from the participants.
The seminar program concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr Nadir Hafiz.
Recording of this session and details of other activities conducted by the Australian Islamic Medical association is available on the website: www.aimamed.com.au