“Muslims Are Not Immune to Mental Health Problems!”: A Letter to the Muslim Community

Dear Muslim community,

Silence cannot help our suffering. Muslims are not immune to mental health problems and it’s time we step up and acknowledge this.

We cannot keep the state of dissonance where our mind tells us one thing, but our body says another. When we feel sad, we resort to saying that the root is a stomach ache or a headache. How does this help us? It’s merely another coping mechanism disguised as ‘avoidance’.

It’s time we pay attention to our emotions and gather meaning from it. A good habit would be to start asking ourselves why we are feeling this emotion. Reflection on our current state and surrounding is a good practice that therapists and psychologists recommend. Once you start doing this, I promise, you will start to see improvements in other areas of your life as well.

It is important to address our family members too. The pain of our experience is one thing, but to not have our family or friends respect and understand our journey is devastating. This is where we need support the most. It’s frustrating and isolating to have the fear of being overwhelmed. A fear that comes from encountering something that we once thought we were immune to.

Maybe it appears in different ways, and maybe there are specific factors that only we understand.  For example, how easy is it to understand that we have a duty to look after our parents, but at the same time it puts us under a lot of pressure and we don’t know how to cope anymore?

There is prominent belief among many that prayer alone will dissipate depression. Our spirituality needs to be listened to as well as our mental health. Yet, it is not sufficient to pray away our illness. Do pray, but do seek professional help too. It’s not wise to delay our healing. There are different ways in which this healing could be achieved. And it starts from within.

As individuals, we need to be more supportive towards each other. As a community, we need to accept that mental illness can affect us too. As professionals, we need more awareness of culturally sensitive issues and be ready to work with them. Everyone has a battle inside of them. Let’s not add to the conflict but instead alleviate those who are suffering.

Sara Tofiq

Written by Sara Tofiq

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Sara is an undergrad student living in London and through writing she hopes to inspire others. She is obsessed with cats, green tea and likes the sound of rain during the night