This Is How Muslims Can Destigmatize Mental Health Illness

Mental health is an essential aspect of overall well-being and is increasingly recognized as an important issue in today’s society. With the growing prevalence of mental health challenges, it is important to acknowledge the role of community and support in promoting mental health and well-being.

Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:

“Whoever relieves a Muslim of a burden from the burdens of the world, Allah will relieve him of a burden from the burdens on the Day of Judgement. And whoever helps ease a difficulty in the world, Allah will grant him ease from a difficulty in the world and in the Hereafter. And whoever covers (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will cover (his faults) for him in the world and the Hereafter. And Allah is engaged in helping the worshipper as the worshipper is engaged in helping his brother.” – Jami’ at-Tirmidhi 1930, Book 27, Hadith 36

As stated in the above Hadith, helping others and relieving their burdens can have a profound impact on one’s own well-being and can be seen as a virtuous act. Therefore, it is important to recognize the interconnectedness of our actions and their impact on the mental health and well-being of ourselves and those around us. In this context, promoting mental health can be seen as a collective responsibility and a way of fulfilling our duties towards our fellow human beings, while also benefiting ourselves in the process.


Source: Google Pexel

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we thought it was important to bring some attention to a topic that is still widely misunderstood. It is crucial to understand that mental health and well-being are critical to our ability to function as a whole, and we should all be well-informed on how to handle our mental health with care. Not to spread fear, but mental illness can impact anyone at any time – it is naive to believe that it only happens to people who are weak, have substance abuse issues, or have other disorders.

In reality, anyone can be impacted by a mental health crisis. Consider how you would react if you were subjected to any of the following: You lose your job; your partner leaves you; someone you love passes away; or, you are on the brink of becoming homeless with no support system. How would you react? Alternatively, suppose you experience too many positive events simultaneously and you become overwhelmed. Maybe in that situation, you begin to feel as though you are undeserving. You develop imposter syndrome, fearing that others will find out that you really do not deserve the good happening in your life. In either scenario, the stress and the burden of not being able to control your thoughts and feelings are overwhelming.

Here’s How You Can Help

Mental health illness is a prevalent issue in all communities, but people still struggle to cope with it. Despite campaigns highlighting the importance of raising awareness and providing support, we still are lacking in support as a community. For that reason, here are four ways you can support friends or family struggling with mental health illness.

1. Help Them Find The Correct Resources

First, it is crucial to determine what resources are available to you. Do you know the location of your local crisis center? It is vital to acknowledge that imams, despite being important figures in the mosque, are not therapists. Therefore, relying on them for mental health support is not advisable (unless of course, they are educated in counseling and mental health.) Once you have identified the crisis, you must determine the type of situation you are dealing with. Is it related to a crime, bereavement, or financial crisis? This assessment is crucial in determining who to approach for help.

2. Use Positive Language

Your role as a friend, family member, or co-worker is to remain calm and be a good listener. Avoid using phrases such as, “look on the bright side,” or “it could be worse,” as these may do more harm than good. Instead, try to be empathetic and put yourself in their shoes. Recall a time when you wished you had someone to support you and think about how you can help your loved one feel optimistic.

Positive statements like, “I’m here for you,” “Talk to me about what’s going on,” “Is there anything I can do to help,” “I know of a great resource that may assist you,” and “you are not alone,” are much better options than ones that make them feel guilty or blamed for their situation. It is essential to remember the Islamic teachings of compassion and kindness. We have a responsibility to help alleviate sadness, hunger, pain, and other difficulties.

3. Be a Confidant

When someone reaches out to share their emotions with you, they may be seeking help or simply seeking validation for their feelings. Often, they just need assurance that they can confide in you and that you will be there to lend an ear or help them find the resources they need. They may not directly ask for your assistance due to pride, but you can learn to read between the lines. It is a great idea to join community-based organizations that offer crisis intervention services in your area. You can easily find these agencies by searching for “crisis intervention” and adding your city to the search query. Having relevant training or life experience can be very helpful in dealing with these situations. In summary, when someone shares their feelings with you, they may be seeking help or validation. They need to know that they can trust you to listen and support them.

4. Look for the Red Flags

What do crises look or sound like? When someone is acting unusual, losing interest in things they once enjoyed, and appearing depressed, it could be a red flag. Missing work or school, withdrawing from the community, and other changes could also indicate that something is wrong. The signs and symptoms can vary from person to person, but you likely know your friends and family best and can tell when something is off. Although they may reach out to you during a crisis, it’s essential to be vigilant, particularly with children. Constantly checking in with our loved ones and looking for red flags or signs of distress is critical. Pay attention to their body language, who they’re interacting with, and whether they still enjoy laughing and doing things they love. If you sense that the situation is beyond your ability to handle, seek professional assistance because a crisis can easily escalate into a dangerous situation for the person who needs help.

Crises may manifest in various ways, such as changes in behavior, loss of interest in activities, and withdrawal from society. Although the signs and symptoms can differ from person to person, being vigilant and checking in regularly with our loved ones can help us recognize red flags. It’s critical to pay attention to their body language, behavior around others, and overall mood. When we sense that someone needs professional help, we should not hesitate to seek assistance because crises can easily escalate into dangerous situations that require immediate intervention.

Let’s destigmatize mental health illness. It’s important to acknowledge that mental health should not be a topic that’s avoided, even though it still seems to be a sensitive topic in our communities. However, we have the power to alter this perspective. If you take away only one message from this article, let it be this: you might be the one who requires support, or you might be the one who can make a difference in someone’s life. There are others who are experiencing the same struggles as you, and it’s essential to realize that you are not alone. Don’t hesitate to seek help and offer assistance to others. By taking action and setting an example, we can put an end to the negative perceptions surrounding mental health in our communities.