Addressing depression in Muslim communities


Primary investigator: Dr Ghazala Mir


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 minority faith groups.

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 evidence has been available 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 manual and using this feedback 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 was undertaken in four parts which broadly followed the MRC guidelines for the development of complex interventions:

Phase 1:  Synthesis of literature
Phase 2:  Interviews with key informants
Phase 3:  Synthesis and production of treatment manual
Phase 4:  Piloting

Results and Resources

The following publicly available resources have been developed to help practitioners and Muslim clients.  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 work with these:

Presentations from a conference to support the development of culturally competent mental healthcare are also available below.

Adapting Therapies for Faith Communities Conference: 6th September 2012

St Peter's House/Kala Sangam, 1 Forster Square, Bradford BD1 4TY

Simon Large: Research and service development at Bradford District Care Trust

Suman Fernando: Psychological therapies in a multicultural, multi-   faith society

Jonathan Kanter: Adapting Behavioural Activation to the values of Latino clients

Ghazala Mir and Shaista Meer: Addressing depression in Muslim communities

Service User Panel: Experiences of therapy and mental health

Jonathan Kanter – Strategies for delivering BA in diverse communities: a therapist workshop

Ghazala Mir/Shaista Meer – Religious Activation

Dean Macmillan - Adapted BA therapy in practice


The adapted therapy is being delivered in a number of primary care mental health services across England and therapy teams have been given training to support this. A BBC article covering the research has raised awareness of the approach nationally and internationally. 

Mental health therapy for Muslims embraces religion - BBC Article 

القرآن "علاج نفسي للمسلمين في بريطانيا" - BBC News Arabic