Addressing depression in Muslim communities


National healthcare policies state that professionals should take account of cultural identity and provide appropriate healthcare for minority ethnic and religious groups. Professionals may get little practical support to do this however and there is very little research evidence about how to meet the needs of this population.

Some people in Muslim communities experience higher rates and longer periods of mental ill-health than other groups. There is evidence that services that draw on faith as a resource can help reduce or prevent long-term depression and improve people’s quality of life. However, community-based services have little or no impact on mainstream NHS healthcare and reach only a small minority of people. Little is known also about how to develop faith-based approaches for Muslim service users in the UK.

Aim & Objectives

To fill the gap in knowledge about how best to address the needs of Muslim service users with depression through:

  • adapting a mental health therapy called Behavioural Activation, combining existing approaches with evidence from existing research and practice to produce a guidance manual for practitioners
  • gathering feedback on how acceptable and useful Muslim service users and their therapists find the guidance and using this to further improve the manual
  • outlining in detail important principles and effective methods for treating Muslim service users from a variety of ethnic backgrounds


The research will be in four parts which broadly follow the MRC guidelines for development of complex interventions and complex synthesis:

Phase 1: synthesis of literature
Phase 2: interviews with key informants
Phase 3: synthesis and production of treatment manual
Phase 4: piloting


Findings from this study and an adapted therapy manual were presented at a conference on Adapting Therapy for Faith Communities on 6 September 2012. The conference aimed to support the development of culturally competent mental healthcare and help practitioners engage effectively with people from faith communities.

Presenters included:

  • Jonathan Kanter (University of Wisonconsin-Milwaukee)
  •  Suman Fernando (University of Kent)
  • Ghazala Mir/Shaista Meer (University of Leeds)
  • Rabia Malik (Marlborough Cultural Therapy Centre)
  • Sharing Voices, Bradford

Final programme with links to presentations given at the conference.


Impact plans involve publication of reports that will be sent to people who work in health and social care settings, people who use mental health services and family carers. We will also organise conferences and seminars to tell people about our results. Our NHS partners will take responsibility for ensuring dissemination of the manual to therapists in mental health services and other relevant settings.


Funding agency: National Institute for Health Research

Grant value: £327,844


*The therapy manual and client self-help booklets developed during this study are being made publicly available and we are hoping to do further research on their implementation. If you are interested in using these resources within a mental health service we would be grateful if you could contact Ghazala Mir with further details about how you plan to use these.

Further information

For further information contact Ghazala Mir.