The word Mashwara (مشورة), which in Arabic means counsel or advice captures the intention of these posts.

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 offer Mashwara as a means by which we can communicate, that we hear you. InshAllah these 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.

By: Anisa Diab, M.S., NCC, LGPC, DCC

Everyone has mental health, but not everyone experiences mental illness. For those that do, the stigma surrounding mental health concerns such as clinical depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among many others creates significant barriers to treatment. Unfortunately, misconceptions rooted in culture and religious misunderstanding within the Muslim community are often responsible for preventing Muslims from seeking professional help and treatment.

Here are some examples of mental health myths in the Muslim community:

  1. In order to overcome mental health concerns, one must simply make dua (pray for Allah to help them.)
  2. As long as my child is doing well academically, my child’s mental health is fine.
  3. Getting married will help my son or daughter overcome their mental illness.
  4. Religious people do not have suicidal thoughts.
  5. If a person is hearing voices, it means they are possessed by a jinn.
  6. People who are having symptoms of depression or anxiety have weak iman (faith).
  7. Going to see a mental health professional haram (a sin).

While praying is a positive coping factor for many in dealing with life’s challenges, unfortunately, prayer may not be enough in certain situations. For instance, if a person has a broken leg—they will go see a doctor to ensure the leg bones are able to heal properly. Yet unfortunately, rather than being told to go see a mental health professional, those experiencing mental health concerns are often told to “get over it” or “just have faith.” According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 80-90 percent of individuals struggling with depression and/or anxiety respond positively to mental health treatment. As a Muslim community, what can we do to empower our youth and families to reach out and get help? The first step is to talk about it!

Please join me at Syracuse University on March 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hall of Languages Room 107 for the presentation Mental Health: Know the Facts, No Stigma. This event is sponsored by the MSA at Syracuse University and the NAS Learning Center.

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