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11 February 2020

Why Muslim communities should discuss mental health

Faisal Nazir
Why Muslim communities should discuss mental health

Last week marked Children’s Mental Health Week, with the hashtag #ItsTimeToTalk trending on the 6th of February, encouraging people to talk about their mental health. Which gives us a perfect opportunity to discuss mental health.

Muslim Hands understand the importance of mental well being and has been providing psycho-social care to children in Gaza through a range of therapies and activities.

Children across the world in war-torn areas suffer from mental health conditions such as PTSD, due to the constant violence and conflict they have seen from a young age.

But what about Muslim mental health at home?

As soon as we hear of the word mental health, all these negative connotations jump at us, we think of someone being depressed and anxious, we paint this dark image within our minds.

But mental health is just like physical health, it is general well being, it can be both good and bad.

The way we treat our physical health is how we should also approach our mental health. The way we exercise regularly and have balanced diets, we should give ourselves time to mentally rest.

The way we speak to others about our workout plans, we should discuss ways we develop our mental well being. Our diet should not only contribute to our physical health, it should be part of our mental health too.

You would be surprised how much impact a simple conversation has. A cup of coffee (or hot chocolate!) goes a long, long way. Talking is the firsts step. It is difficult to take that first step, to admit to someone that things aren’t going great, that you have been feeling a certain way. But what you feel is totally valid, your mental health matters.

If someone came to you with a broken leg, you would not simply ask them to be patient and make Du’aa right? You would assist them to the hospital and seek medical assistance. This is how we should treat mental health.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking help, what you feel may be an illness. And we know all illnesses are a test from Allah (swt), and that we should put our trust in Him. But alongside that we should take practical measures towards healing. Whether that is rest or hospital appointments, we’ve got to do our bit too.

To those who are suffering, there is support out there for you. There are brothers and sisters who are willing to listen, willing to lend a helping hand. We are all part of the same ummah, united by our love for Allah (swt).

If you need to seek professional help, seek it. You could speak to a GP, a teacher, a friend or even call up the many anonymous hotlines, such as the Muslim Youth Helpline.

Things will get better, every passing day is a ray of hope, a chance for new opportunities. Allah does not burden a soul more than they can bear, and with every hardship, there is always ease.

The Prophet (saw) said that ‘verily the believers are like a structure, each part strengthening the other’. [Bukhari] It is part of our deen to be there for others, to bring them joy and relief as explained in this beautiful Hadith.

So remember you are never alone.

This world is not a place of permanent happiness and it’s okay to not be okay. Our ups and downs are part of the journey of life, shaping us to become the people we are destined to become. We will be tested in different ways, and for some, they are tested through their mental well being.

Overcoming mental difficulties is a journey, it will take patience and perseverance, but our religion is one of hope. Allah has not abandoned you and will not, neither will your brothers and sisters around you.

I pray you find the peace and happiness you are searching for, Ameen.

As Muslim communities we should welcome the discussion of mental health, encouraging young people to speak about how they feel in a safe, respectful environment. To express their emotions without being forced to bottle them up under the guise of just having patience. Don’t push your brothers and sisters away, don’t demonise them for their thoughts, treat them with compassion, mercy and affection.

All it takes is one conversation, one conversation can save a life.

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Muslim Hands UK

Established in 1993, Muslim Hands is an aid agency and NGO helping those affected by poverty, conflict and natural disaster in over 20 countries worldwide.