Meet our Facilitator
Dr. Yusra Ahmad
Dr. Yusra Ahmad, MD, FRCPC, is a community & academic psychiatrist in Toronto. She graduated with a BA from the University of Chicago and an MD from the University of Toronto where she completed her residency in psychiatry in 2013. She is affiliated with Women's College Hospital and the University Health Network. She is a Clinical Lecturer in the Division of Psychotherapy, Humanities & Psychosocial Interventions at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She teaches on Muslim mental health to the PGY-1 psychiatry residents as part of their core curriculum.
Dr. Ahmad created Mindfully Muslim after she witnessed the impact of repetitive trauma on her community, beginning with 9/11 and culminating in the Quebec City mosque shooting. Mindfully Muslim is an anti-oppressive, trauma-informed, faith-based group therapy program that blends her interests in mindfulness, neurobiology, poetry, self-help, psychotherapy and religion. It has been adopted by Women’s Health in Women’s Hands and Health Access Thorncliffe Park, two community health centres in Toronto and a virtual version of the program will be delivered at Wanasah, an emerging mental health organization for Black Muslim youth and their families in January 2021, Insh’Allah. She delivered a modified version of this program alongside an Arabic translator to Syrian newcomer women at Sistering. Mindfully Muslim has received a 2019 Excellence Fund research grant through the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and because of this work, Dr. Ahmad was honoured with the 2019 Ontario Psychiatric Association’s Breakout Community Advocacy Award.
Previously, Dr. Ahmad did outreach work with homeless clients on the streets of Toronto through the MATCH (Multidisciplinary Access to Care & Housing) team and provided consultative support to homeless men from Seaton House at the Inner City Family Health Team. She has also worked in the Psychiatric Emergency Services Unit (PESU) at Toronto Western Hospital. Currently, she is working with Connections at the Children’s Aid Society, a unique program for transitional aged youth who are stepping into their independence and she is supporting homeless clients residing in hotels in the city of Toronto (to ensure physical distancing) during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a member of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Ahmad has specific expertise in trauma, mood & anxiety disorders as well as SPMI (severe & persistent mental illness) populations. She believes in the power of psychotherapy to address the struggles that spring from the human condition. She is dedicated to community work & advocacy around diverse issues such as marginalization, homelessness, poverty, refugee mental health, intimate partner violence, gender equity and the struggles of Muslim youth & families. She was a key informant for “Building Muscle: Community Interventions for Family Conflict,” a pilot project out of the Redwood Shelter that focuses on Black & Muslim communities in the GTA, London & Peel regions. She believes in multifaith initiatives and led a prayer for peace at the World Parliament of Religions in Toronto in 2018.
Other projects include film consultancy for CTV's "Transplant" (airing on NBC on Sept 1, 2020 in the US) and Jasmin Mozaffari's "The Path Travels Me,” an independent film being made for Netflix.
Dr. Ahmad loves to live in between the lines because she believes a lot of power & beauty springs from these liminal spaces. She cares deeply about people and their stories.
As a single mom, she understands the endless hours of hard work & struggle that never get noticed. She is grateful to every single soul on her path. She would not have made it this far without all of those invisible connections & the relentless sacrifice of so many before her.
And as a Muslim, she knows that none of this would have been possible without the help of a Merciful Creator. Alhamdullilah.
Ontario Psychiatric Association (OPA) Award
Dr. Yusra Ahmad is a recipient of the 2019 OPA Breakout Community Psychiatry Advocacy Award.
Canadian TV Show "Transplant" Humanizing Refugees
Dr. Yusra Ahmad provides advice on how to portray the mental health struggles of Dr. Hamed and his little sister in the show.
Living a Double Life Takes a Toll on Mental Health
Dr. Yusra Ahmad shines light on the struggles of Muslim youth in the GTA as they navigate the conflicting expectations of society and family.
Dr. Yusra Ahmad addresses the lack of therapeutic programs based on faith and spirituality.
Dealing with Post-Wedding Blues
Dr. Yusra Ahmad explains to Vogue that when less-than-ideal emotions are put on hold, they can take a toll that is only evident after the wedding is over.
Race, Religion And Mental Health: Therapy Should Be Culturally Relevant