The Importance of Mental Health in the Muslim Community

Having just graduated with a masters in mental health, I feel like I need to educate those around me about how important it is. Sadly most of us over look issues having to do with our mental health. When we have issues with our physical health we usually go for a check up to our doctor, then why not go to a therapist when we start to feel mentally drained and unable to cope with the various issues in our lives. I’m sure many of you have felt like you were going to “lose it” at some point in your life, I’m also sure you did not make it to a therapist’s office after feeling that way.

I am not trying to be hard on you but the fact is that just like you care about your physical health, your mental health is as important. I know its not easy, especially when mental health issues have always been surrounded by a certain taboo, especially if you come from a South Asian or Latino culture. Things have changed in recent times but awareness is still needed.

I think that it is important to start a dialogue about the many aspects of mental health and how to connect it to our own lives. In my experience people have a lot of misconceptions about mental health. For example, when people hear what I do, I have often heard, “Oh I should be careful while talking to you, cause you are probably psychoanalyzing me.” Or “How can you deal with crazy people?” Or my personal favorite, “Can you read my mind?” even when I say no, they look at me doubtfully. Yeah sure if I spend a few hours talking to you its easy for me to figure out what makes you tic, but that’s just because I have become more intuitive due to my training.

Need more convincing? A study in 2006 conducted with approximately 450 Muslims in the US showed that only 15.7% reported a need for counseling and 11.1% reported actually seeking mental health services. Another study done with Muslim college students found that 68% of its respondents thought there was little or no awareness or acceptance of mental health issues amongst the Muslim population. The Columbia Undergraduate Journal of South Asian Studies recently published a study in which over 100 South Asian Muslim women were surveyed. 48.44% of the respondents were identified as suffering from moderate to high levels of depression/anxiety. So as you can see, we have a lot of work to do.

I am often asked why I chose this field. There really is no simple answer to this question. I am completely dedicated to the cause of helping people and empowering them to be their best possible selves. I believe every person has the ability to achieve their goals and my job is to help motivate and encourage them. Muslim women have so much potential and often times they never get the opportunities to live up to that potential. It is time to take control of our lives and realize what we are truly capable of. It all starts by taking care of your mental health and making sure that you are ready to face the world. So let’s do this!