Published: Feb. 2, 2016

Muslim Mental Health Conference to feature opiate addiction training, research

Contact(s): Laura Probyn College of Osteopathic Medicine office: (517) 884-3755, Sarina Gleason Media Communications office: (517) 355-9742

Michigan State University’s eighth annual Muslim Mental Health Conference, the largest ongoing conference for Muslims in academic settings, will take place March 17-20 at the Dearborn Inn in Dearborn, Michigan. This year’s conference will feature a special section on opiate addiction training for imams, the first of its kind to be offered.

“Given the increase in opiate-related addiction and deaths, we want to give the imams who attend the chance to participate in a substance abuse training module aimed at helping them understand the basis of addiction and learn about referral resources,” said Farha Abbasi, MSU assistant professor of psychiatry and conference organizer.

Titled “Peace and Justice: Building Harmony between Psyche and Law,” this conference will bring together faith leaders, health care providers and researchers to examine topics related to mental health across the American Muslim community.

In another first, Abbasi and MSU psychiatry resident Sierra Witte will begin collecting preliminary data for a research study on opiate use in this community.

“The conference has evolved,” Abbasi said. "In addition to our ground-breaking work addressing opiate use, there will be research presentations, community storytelling, mosque tours and authors on-site.”

Presenters will discuss topics at the intersection of mental health and law, ranging from extremism, islamophobia and resiliency to interfaith training for those working with American Muslim families.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships will present a program on trauma informed congregations. This session will focus on helping communities address individuals who are affected by traumatic events, some of which may be related to war or their status as refugees.

The first two days of the conference will include explorations of innovative treatment and building cultural and spiritual competence. The third day features panel discussions including one on Black Muslims and another on Muslim advocacy. There will also be a presentation on American Law and Sharia Law. The conference wraps up with local Mosque tours on March 20.

The Muslim Mental Health Conference is sponsored by the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, the MSU Department of Psychiatry, the MSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of the MSU Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies and the Institute of Muslim Mental Health.

The fee is $50 for students and $150 for professionals, and the registration deadline is March 11. To register or learn more about the conference, visit or email

Farha Abbasi, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, specializes in mental health issues among Muslims and has been coordinating the one-of-a-kind conference since its beginning. Photo by Derrick L. Turner

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