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Aurora Family Therapy Centre Addresses Winnipeggers’ Mental Health Concerns

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With services supported by the Department of Families and the Department of Justice of Manitoba, Aurora Family Therapy Centre (AFTC) is a forward-thinking, non-profit family therapy clinic that provides family counselling at a sliding rate. 

In this episode, guest interviewers Yahya Zaham and Rimsha Sohail speak to Abdikheir Ahmed, Executive Director of Aurora about the challenges for Muslim newcomers to Canada, particularly the challenges of refugees.

Ahmed spoke passionately about the resilience of the Muslim community who face challenges from every angle. As he details, these challenges include a myriad of things: the weather, the language, the culture. In some cases, there are children that have not attended school for years or at all. Some have faced considerable trauma and loss. They are entering a society that doesn’t have easily available places to pray. Muslim women, in particular, may experience considerable discrimination because of how they dress. They may have no social connections.  Parenting styles are very different: While in many of the countries that they come from, the parents tell the children what to do, while here it is much more of a two-way communication between parent and child in determining a way forward.

What stands in the way of people seeking mental health?  Ahmed says that there is a stigma about admitting to mental health issues in many cultures, even among the ‘white’ population. In the Muslim community, some view these issues as a possession of a djinn or demon. But he says, gradually people are opening up to a different view. He explains that mental health is really a continuum, with some having minor issues and others quite difficult issues, but everyone has issues, no matter how ‘perfect’ they may be.

When asked by Zaham, what the first things one should do if they are having problems, Ahmed replied that it is important to speak to someone you trust – whether it’s a cousin, a parent, or even a Iman. When seeking therapy not all options are culturally sensitive, which is important to consider when seeking outside help.

Ahmed also strongly suggested that people be part of the community, contribute to the community, by helping out at food banks or other organizations and donating. By doing this, he said, you and your children will come to see yourselves as part of the community.

– Zuher Almusre, U Multicultural

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