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 is a Clinical Lecturer in the Division of Psychotherapy, Humanities & Psychosocial Interventions at 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, gender-based violence and the struggles of Muslim youth & families. She currently works at the New Beginnings Clinic at CAMH, the Crossroads Clinic at WCH, Women's Health in Women's Hands and the Delta Hotel where she is providing support to homeless clients who are being temporarily housed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, Dr. Ahmad did outreach work with homeless clients 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 also worked with Connections at the Children’s Aid Society, a unique program for transitional aged youth who are stepping into their independence, and in the Psychiatric Emergency Services Unit (PESU) at Toronto Western Hospital.
She created a trauma-informed group therapy program entitled 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 blends mindfulness-based interventions with the sacred wisdom & teachings of Islam. She presented this program at the 2019 World Psychiatric Association Congress on Religion & Psychiatry in Jerusalem. It has been adopted by both Women’s Health in Women’s Hands and Health Access Thorncliffe Park. She delivered a modified version of this program alongside an Arabic translator to Syrian newcomer women at Sistering. Mindfully Muslim received a 2019 Excellence Fund research grant through the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Because of this work, she was awarded the 2019 Breakout Community Psychiatry Advocacy Award by the Ontario Psychiatric Association & her program was profiled in the feature article, "Race, Religion & Mental Health" in the Black Lives Matter edition of Chatelaine magazine.
Dr. Ahmad is a council member of the Ontario Psychiatric Association, treasurer for the Ontario Coalition of Psychiatrists and member-at-large on the executive for the Section on Psychiatry at the Ontario Medical Association. She is also a member of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Ahmad embraces multi-faith initiatives and has led prayers at the World Parliament of Religions in 2018 and in 2021. She served as a film consultant for the award-winning dramatic series, "Transplant," which aired on CTV & NBC/Universal and "The Path Travels Me,” an independent Netflix film by Jasmin Mozaffari. She also served as a consultant for "I Don't Know," a theatre production by Syrian playwright, Ahmad Meree.
She was a key informant for "Building Muscle -- Community Interventions for Family Conflict," a pilot project led by the Redwood Shelter that focused on Black & Muslim communities in the GTA, London and Peel regions. The goal of this project was to strengthen and promote community capacity to address gender-based violence & explore alternative approaches to prevention & intervention.
A poet at heart, 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.