It feels like all around us everyone is facing their own individual struggles. Whether it be school, work, family life, finances, or personal matters. However, most of the time we feel very much alone in our struggles as our troubles take up and flood your thoughts. We feel as though we are the only one dealing with life’s tests. Crazy thing is, your probably not the only one dealing with such trials and tribulations. But this feeling of defeat that engulfs us during our times of hardship has a way of affecting our mental health with feelings of anxiety or depression.

Mental illness is a topic that holds a great deal of stigma specifically in the Muslim community. Numerous studies have observed that those in the Muslim community thought the idea of reporting mental illness to be a shameful act (1). Mental illness in the Muslim community has been associated to being related to evil spirits or a test or punishment from God in which only prayer can fix (1). Not only is there stigma around mental illness but also stigma around seeking professional help, thus Muslims have reverted to seeking advice from religious leaders i.e. Imams. Yet, it has been observed in the US that 95% of Imams who have reported spending significant time throughout the week providing counselling, admit to having little to no formal training in the field (1).

Although it is useful to pray during times of hardship and when experiencing such feelings of depression, more needs to be done to help address the root cause of the issue. Imams are helpful to a certain extent, but least we forget they are not trained professionals in the field of mental health. It is important to first and foremost reach out to someone when experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, as that is the first step to getting help. With this being said it is also essential to seek professional help from trained individuals, that way long lasting improvements in ones mental health can be achieved.

One organization that is centred around providing help to women when faced with feelings of depression and anxiety specifically for Muslims is Nisa Helpline, a fairly new organization that was launched March 14, 2014 (2). Although this organization is located in British Columbia, Muslim women from all over Canada can call the toll-free number to receive peer-to-peer counselling from trained volunteers on mental health issues such as anxiety and depression (2). The Canadian Mental Health Association is also an organization with numerous locations throughout all provinces that provides professional support and help for those seeking help with issues related to mental health (3).

Aside from the emphasising the importance of seeking help when needed, it is also important to get educated to the topic of mental health. There are numerous websites, conferences, and local event that take place within communities that would provide a great learning opportunity. By gaining knowledge on the topic of mental health, one is able to at least provide appropriate advice when a family or friend approaches you with mental health issues.

Your dedicated blogger,

Raya Haddass.

Reference:

  1. Ciftci, A., Jones, N., & Corrigan, P. W. (2013). Mental health stigma in the Muslim community. Journal of Muslim Mental Health7(1).
  2. Nisa Helpline. (n.d). About our helpline. Retrieved from https://nisahelpline.com/about-our-helpline/
  3. Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). Mental Health Statistics. Retrieved from http://ontario.cmha.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CMHA-Mental-health-factsheet.pdf

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