Muslims possess the youngest age profile of all religious groups in the UK; young Muslims make up almost half of the UK Muslim population, with 48% being under the age of 25 years. Muslims, therefore, make up a significant 1 in 12 school children in Britain. In light of the data, which indicates a rising prevalence of mental health issues in young people and evidence which suggests this is both more frequent and chronic amongst young Muslims who are also less likely to seek help, a fact often attributed to the additional economic and social disadvantages Muslims face more broadly; 50% of Muslim families live in poverty, and Muslim communities have poorer outcomes in health and housing. It is, therefore, clear that there is a desperate need to focus research and resources to address the scarcity of information on and specialised treatment of young Muslim’s mental health.
Research undertaken by the Better Community Business Network points towards a silent epidemic. The Hidden Survivors report surveyed young Muslims and found that 53.8% of respondents had experienced anxiety, 49.4% reported experiencing depression, and 48.6% said they had experienced stress. Additionally, nearly 1 in 5 young Muslims said they had harboured suicidal thoughts “many times”, an almost equal number said they had done so “sometimes”, and about a quarter said they had “occasionally” experienced suicidal thoughts. Given the stigma attached to mental health in Muslim communities, the inequalities and barriers in seeking and accessing health care, and indeed the anxieties clinicians themselves express in working with Muslim families, this appears to be a problem that will only grow in complexity and severity.
Young Muslim mental health holds national urgency; not only do Muslims make up 8.1% of all school-age children (5 to 15 years old), but there are variations in parts of the country with a high local Muslim population, such as the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham where nearly two thirds (65.8%), or a half (44.1%) of children of school age are of Muslim background. Additionally, more than three-quarters of British Muslims (76%) live in four inner-city conurbations: Greater London, West Midlands, North West and Yorkshire and Humberside. Muslim mental health, therefore, bears significance for the growth and prosperity of the UK’s major cities where well-being and workforce profile is inextricably linked to the size of the local Muslim population.
Not only does the increase in mental health problems in young people require intervention, but as Muslims form a sizeable minority within schools, and their experience is increasingly stigmatised and subject to exceptional forms of racism, there is an additional, pressing need for Muslim children and young people to get the therapeutic support they require to lead happy, fulfilling lives. To intervene early and ensure equality of access, schools present the most viable option as gateways to better information on and support of mental health.
Muslim Mind Collaborative, a collection of organisations from a broad range of sectors aimed at supporting Muslim mental well-being, are working to address this issue. We want to work hand in hand with schools to provide them with an accessible, holistic and comprehensive toolkit that meets them where they are in their journey towards faith and mental health literacy. We need your help to do this.
If you are a teacher, assistant, administrator, governor, or another member of the education community – please take part in our five-minute survey to help gather intelligence. Every response broadens our depth of understanding and insight into the needs of the school community and Muslim children in its care.
Please complete their survey here: