Meeting complex mental health needs within Muslim community

The Muslim Wellbeing team at Purapura Whetu Trust continues to grow and adapt to meet the evolving complexity of needs of the community it serves.
Pegasus Health works closely with the team, one of two culturally responsive mental health services in Christchurch.

The team was set up in response to the Christchurch terror attacks almost two and a half years ago and it continues to receive increasing numbers of clients from within the Muslim community with complex
needs. “We have new clients coming in every week, sometimes up to seven a week,” says the team’s Clinical Lead, Kereama Carmody.

“There has been a shift from supporting the directly-affected, to dealing more with the ripple effects, with a lot more of the trauma and psychosocial issues coming out. Two years after the event there’s been a real increase in clients presenting with severe trauma. ”

“Six months ago, we had 70-90 clients, currently we have 144 active clients, and the need continues to grow,” says Carmody.

The Wellbeing Team includes a part-time Muslim youth worker, Bariz Shah, who supports young Muslim men aged between 13 to 25 years who lost their fathers in the attack and are dealing with trauma. He runs outreach programmes focused on outdoor education and camps.

The service is expanding to include a community development position to increase it’s ability to work with larger groups providing activities that promote Aotearoa as a safe and inclusive place to live.

The team has eight full-time and two part-time staff, as well as a specialist team of four clinical psychologists. It includes Carmody as clinical lead, a psychologist – managing external clinical supervision, community support workers, a youth worker, counsellor, and physiotherapist.


They hail from Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, and Jordan and speak a range of languages from Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Somali, Hindi, Urdu, and Pashto.

Looking to the future, the Purapura Whetu Trust is focusing on growing and developing interpretation and translation capacity to help the community engage with agencies, as well as upskilling their community support workers to meet the community’s needs.

Cover image: The Purapura Whetu Trust Muslim Wellbeing Team comes together once a week to discuss progress and support each other (from left) – Muneir Gwasmeh – Muslim wellbeing practitioner, Kereama Carmody – Team Leader, Bariz Shah – Muslim Wellbeing youth worker, Abdifatah Ibraham, Farial Savul and Nawal Hussein – Muslim wellbeing practitioners. Absent: Suhayla Asghari – Muslim wellbeing practitioner, Ruby Sadat – Counsellor.

Read the full September newsletter.