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US govt to recognize Pakistani-American psychiatrist as top faith leader

Dr. Farha Abbasi, a renowned psychiatrist and active member of the Pakistani-American community in Michigan, will be named one of the nation’s top women faith leaders by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

On March 30, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra will host an event called Women on the Frontlines: Celebrating Women Faith Leaders to honor 15 women faith leaders for their incredible work and extraordinary leadership qualities in the service of humanity.

Dr. Abbasi is an assistant professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Psychiatry and a member of the Muslim Studies Program’s core faculty.

She was awarded the American Psychiatric Association SAMSHA Minority Fellowship in 2009 and used the grant money to raise awareness about cultural competency, redefining it as acceptance rather than tolerance. Her research interests include faith and cultural psychiatry, as well as teaching medical students how to care for Muslim patients in a culturally appropriate manner. She works directly with the Muslim American community to promote integration as opposed to isolation from mainstream society.

Dr. Abbasi is the founder of the Annual Muslim Mental Health Conference, which drew experts from 30 countries. In addition, she organized a Global Muslim Mental Health Conference in Malaysia and Jordan. She is also working to create safe spaces for victims of domestic violence and substance abuse.

‘Another feather in our cap,’ says one

In a phone call, Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Masood Khan congratulated Dr. Abbasi on her singular achievement, which has made Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora in the United States proud.

“It’s yet another feather in our cap, demonstrating the enormous talent and capabilities of the Pakistani diaspora,” he said.

Dr. Abbasi told the ambassador that she has spent the last 15 years working not only to strengthen the efficacy of faith and cultural-based solutions in addressing mental health issues but also to remove the stigma that often surrounds mental health issues, particularly in developing countries.

The envoy was grateful for her assistance in providing a healing touch to those who needed it the most. He also praised her efforts to bring the peoples of the two countries closer together.

Masood stated that mental health services were available in all major hospitals in Pakistan and that efforts were being made to ensure that such services were available in remote areas. He stated that psychiatry was being taught in Pakistan’s major universities and was becoming a popular discipline. The ambassador also stated that efforts were being made to strengthen ties between Pakistani and American universities in order to share knowledge and expertise.

The ambassador went on to say that the doctors of Pakistani descent in the United States could significantly assist their Pakistani brothers and sisters in addressing mental health issues, raising awareness, overcoming resource constraints, and, most importantly, removing the stigma associated with such

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