PARMA, Ohio — Mental health services and psych medications can be costly. So much so that it can often be out of reach for many people. The Islamic Center of Cleveland, located in Parma, is trying to make mental health services and medications more accessible to the community.
“We are number one country economically in the world, and yet we are also number one in the rate of depression — and this was even before pandemic,” said Dr. Razia Ahmed, a psychiatrist practicing in the Cleveland-area for nearly three decades.
Depression, anxiety, frustration — all things that have grown as the pandemic marches on.
And at the Islamic Center of Cleveland in Parma, the area’s largest mosque, they’re trying to combat that.
“In tough times, everybody has to get together and see how we can help our community,” said Suhail Mustafa.
Tucked away just behind the mosque is the Ibn Sina Clinic, created several years ago.
Now, there are 25 physicians and specialists who volunteer their time to see patients, both in person and virtually.
It’s completely free medical and mental health services to anyone who needs it.
No catch, no strings attached.
“Everybody! Goodness, everybody. We’ve had people come from as far as Columbus, one or two people come from out of state, we are open to everybody regardless of background,” said Asma Hussain.
“And our free clinic is open not just for Muslims, not just our community, but for anybody,” Ahmed said. Gender, race, religion, ethnicity doesn’t matter. “Because we believe Islam’s requirement is to help the needy and the community you live in.”
And that applies to those with and without insurance because oftentimes co-pays can still be out of reach.
The clinic also has grants to get medications to people for free along with the recent expansion of telemedicine services.
During the pandemic, they’ve started taking a holistic approach to help, beyond medical care, realizing that if someone is in need of a free clinic, there are often behind-the-scenes factor at play.
“So we have partnered up with local organizations and they have given us funding to be able to support people with rent, utility, grocery bills, whatever they have,” Mustafa said.
“We want people to know: this is true, we’re here to help you, come to us with whatever needs you have,” Hussain added.
And when asked about spreading the word about this and worries about getting too many patients, the volunteer physicians told me, they would welcome that.