The Islamic Society of CNY is pleased to introduce Mashwara (مشورة), a bi-monthly post by certified & licensed Mental Health Counselor Anisa Diab. The word Mashwara which in Arabic means counsel or advice captures the intention of this new endeavor.

We have been humbled to sit amongst you, our umma, to hear your concerns, fears, frustrations and requests for some guidance on how to navigate difficult but very necessary conversations about Islamophobia, xenophobia, and bullying. We are launching Mashwara as a means by which we can communicate, that we hear you. InshAllah these bi-monthly posts will be a vehicle for offering some counsel, support and actionable tools for starting conversations about these issues in our masjids, homes, schools or places of business.

“You are not alone. You are part of the ummah. Although Islamophobia can cause feelings of isolation and depression, know that there are Muslims all over the country who share your experiences, will validate the reality that you are facing,  and are open to provide you a sense of support and solidarity”. – Margari Hill (Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative/MuslimARC)

Coping with Islamophobia By: Anisa Diab, M.S., NCC, LGPC, DCC

Here are some strategies for coping with Islamophobia and staying safe:

For Youth:

  • Counter ignorance/negativity with education and kindness
  • Take breaks from the news and social media
  • Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, exercise, and even seeking mental health counseling
  • Build partnerships with interfaith groups or start an Islam Awareness Club at your school to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding
  • Let your parents, teachers, and/or supervisor know if you are facing bullying/discrimination in the school or workplace; do not try to handle it alone.

For Parents:

  • For young children, limit media and news in order to protect them from frightening images and details;
  • Reassure your children that you will do everything to keep them safe.
  • Check-in regularly to ensure that your children/teens feel safe at school and monitor internet activities to prevent cyberbullying
  • Be vigilant of any sudden changes in behavior or mood in your child; take these signs seriously.
  • Encourage children/teens to cope with anxiety or sadness through writing, art, civil engagement, story sharing, and other age-appropriate means.

Each of us should make safety a priority. Ask yourself, “If I faced an emergency, would I be able to call for help? Does my family know where I am? Is this situation safe?”

Social and Health Community Resources: HERE

anisa-diabAnisa Diab received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Spanish from Salisbury University and her M.S. in Community Counseling from the University of Scranton. Diab is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and Distanced Certified Counselor in good standing. Most recently, Anisa Diab worked as Coordinator for the STAND4YOU suicide prevention program at Salisbury University’s Counseling Center. She also served for 2 years as a Board Member for the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund for suicide prevention. Anisa is currently working as a public speaker providing outreach to religious centers, universities, and youth groups on topics ranging from understanding Islamic teachings to mental health related issues such as suicide prevention and mental wellness. She also works as a crisis intervention specialist at Contact Community Services responding to suicidal callers and those in psychological distress.

Anisa Diab can be reached via email at: anisa.diab@gmail.com