Muslim Youth

Due to the popularity of the “Matters of the Mind” series and the apparent need for increased attention to Muslim youth, AMHP and HHS decided to focus specifically on the variety of health concerns facing Muslim youth at another meeting in August 2013. This meeting brought HHS officials together with educators, youth directors, chaplains, health professionals, and other leaders in the Muslim community for a 3-hour working meeting. Again, mental health remained a primary concern, and a working group was convened to move forward on this issue.

In order to determine the best next steps for this effort, the working group organized several focus groups with Muslim college students in the Washington, DC area to identify some of their greatest challenges. Results from both the focus groups and anonymous surveys indicated these students most often struggle with: relationship conflicts (with family, friends, and in dating); addictions to alcohol, drugs, and pornography; and identity issues and crises of faith. Students indicated that the biggest barrier to their ability to seek help was often the lack of awareness about counseling and mental health that persists in the broader Muslim community. They also indicated it would be helpful to have Muslim-specific resources to direct them where to go if they or their friends face a mental health issue. AMHP is primarily interested in addressing the first major barrier—awareness—and is in the process of developing a prototype solution with key mental health experts in the Muslim community.