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Muslim mental health clinic opens

Clinicians fill void with practice aimed at unique challenges facing people from Muslim countries

Suhra Nahib
Muslim mental health clinic opens
Mayor Martin Walsh cuts the ribbon on the Community Caring Clinic on Warren Street in Dudley Square. PHOTO: JOHN WILCOX, MAYOR’S OFFICE

Mayor Martin Walsh, city officials and community members gathered in Dudley Square last week for the ribbon-cutting of the Community Caring Clinic, a behavioral health clinic founded by pharmacists Abdifatah Ahmed and Mohamed Abdullahi.

The mission of the clinic, located at 55 Warren St., is to provide high-quality behavioral health services with a holistic approach designed with the needs of underserved and low-income families in mind. The specific focus of the Community Caring Clinic is mental health and stigma within the Muslim refugee and immigrant communities.

The idea came to Ahmed and Abdullahi when they realized that many migrants and refugee families suffer from trauma, and as a result often have a need for professional mental health help. Many of the families that Abdullahi met would request a family therapist, due to their trauma in their lives.

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“When I saw that, I said, ‘This is what is needed and something that is missing in the Muslim community,” he tells the Banner.

Abdullahi says many Muslim families struggle with shame, language barriers, cultural stigma, the cost of treatment and lack of trust toward the behavioral health system.

“Right now we are dealing with a lot of mothers and youth,” he says. “They need somebody who understands their culture. Somebody who breaks the barriers and the stigma on mental health.”

The Community Caring Clinic currently has six staff members: two clinical social workers, one clinical psychologist and three psychiatrists. They are seeking to hire a licensed mental health counselor.

The clinic accepts MassHealth, Medicare and Medicaid, and private insurers.

Abdullahi also works with the Greater Boston Muslim community as a scholar of Quran studies and Arabic studies and serves as a spiritual guide and mentor for Muslim families and youth in Roxbury.

“For me, what made me start the business is that you need something that joins your passion and the business,” he says.

Abdullahi says his work as a pharmacist can complement the mental health services his clinic offers.

“We do have community pharmacists, but many need to be educated a little bit more in the mental health world,” he says.

Both Abdullahi and Ahmed grew up in Somalia, and both say they experienced trauma when they were forcefully uprooted from their homes and became refugees in foreign countries. Abdullahi says their personal experience helps them understand the situations that some of the families are going through when they come to an unfamiliar country.

“We want to bring something different from the regular mental health clinic, which is a holistic approach,” Abdullahi says. “We want to appreciate the holistic approach, with spirituality. We are dealing with organizations that can train our providers to be aware of this spiritual side of the person to whom they’re giving therapy.”

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