• 01 Aug
    Radhika Goel

    Islam and Mental health

    There are several questions that can be addressed when one talks about Islam and mental health. For example, how people’s attitude towards Muslims affect their mental health and how the Muslims own stigmas regarding Islamic law and other religious beliefs influences their opinions about mental health. Thus there are several barriers that the Muslim community encounters on the road to seeking help for mental illnesses. In this article, I attempt to address these questions and the state of mental health conditions of Muslims in different situations.

    Muslim mental health

     

    How do Islamic law and people’s faith influence their stigma towards mental health?

    Some experts on Muslim law have expressed that Muslim families may neglect the issue of mental illness because they feel it brings shame on them and their reputation. Islamic law asks Muslims to rely on God to heal them. When suffering from either physical or mental illness they pray to God to make them feel better. It is believed if you are a spiritual and faithful person and pray to God/Allah, he will put you through trials and cure what he deems right. Others may suggest that illnesses are an opportunity to remedy disconnection from Allah or a lack of faith through regular prayer and a sense of self-responsibility.

    However, there is a need for increasing awareness and re-understanding of Islamic law. Prophet Muhammad has reported, “down a cure even as he has sent down the disease.” Translating this, health is a gift from God and Muslims must seek treatment and advice for all illnesses (physical and mental) to cherish this gift from Allah.

    Having faith in a higher power is beautiful and helps many people but it needs to be channeled and hence combined with proper treatment to reach the root of the illness that plagues a person. God/Allah will always be there to turn to but everyone needs to be able to talk openly about their problems to someone( depending on the severity of the problem) who can help them. People should have a network of friends and family who can support them emotionally and with love.

    Lead researcher Dr. Ghazala Mir, of the university's Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, says this is a common concern among Muslims, who are under-referred for mental health treatment.This stigma does involve the idea that maybe if you need treatment, there might be something wrong with your faith identity in the first place. 

    Habiba a victim of anxiety said, “I live within a big Muslim community and there is hardly any talk about mental illness. It is as if the problem does not exist. In fact, it seems like it should not exist because people are so ashamed of it and that makes me feel ashamed to even have an illness. We need to start talking.  This highlights that the Muslim community at large lives with the stigmas attached to mental health issues and some interpretations of Islamic law discourages them from seeking treatment as well. However, not all Muslims view mental illnesses in this light, al Razi established the first psychiatric ward in Baghdad, Iraq in 705CE. Several other Muslim scholars like him have contributed to the development of psychotherapy.

    Several barriers for Muslims in psychotherapy techniques

    Even if Muslims overcome the stereotypes and stigma attached to mental illnesses they face a number of difficulties in the process of therapy. Researchers found that many Muslims are hesitant to seek help from the mental health professionals in Western countries due to the differences in their beliefs and lack of understating of the helping professionals about Islamic values in their treatment. Consequently, Muslims might feel uncomfortable in seeking psychiatric help to avoid being in conflict with their religious beliefs. Not only individual therapy but even group therapy as practiced in Western settings often conflicts with a number of Islamic values. Therapists not aware of Islamic customs, festivals, and values may not be able to change medication dosage according to the religious responsibilities of Muslims like Ramadan fasting.

    If therapists modified therapeutic procedures to include cultural differences and practices, Muslims would feel more comfortable to talk to a person who understands their core beliefs. Dealing with mental health issues in accordance with their religious beliefs would help patients feel comfortable and secure and help in developing a patient-client relationship. Example, spiritually modified cognitive adaptive techniques such as to count how much God has blessed us and focusing on what we have and not on what we don’t can be used to relieve stress, help in anxiety, to cope with grief, and depression.

    How does Islamophobia affect Muslims, their freedom and mental health in countries like India, USA?

    Islamophobia can be defined as an irrational belief of adherents of Islam. After 9/11 and increase in terror attacks, one could notice the rise of Islamophobia in Western countries. Islamophobia was further encouraged by the government’s unfair treatment of the Muslim population in the United States. However, 62 percent of the world’s Muslim population lives in Asia in countries like India, Middle East, UK etc and Islamophobia is as prevalent in Asia as much as the West. Muslims who have no part to play in terror attacks, Muslims who have no faith in the ideology of the extremists of their faith find themselves being targeted and answerable for crimes they did not commit.

    Kameelah Rashad who runs Muslim Wellness Foundation highlights the kind of mental health issues Muslim students face. She expresses,The things that happen abroad at the hands of ISIS and Boko Haram and al Shabab -- they do more harm to Muslims because it’s not a reflection of our faith. It’s not a reflection of what we believe. When that small percentage becomes the face [of Islam] it robs us of our own humanity.” She also claims that most of the issues Muslim students face are related to identity and how they do not have the freedom to practice their religion without being called extremists. Muslims who are aware of public stigma about Islamic law may view negative attitudes as legitimate or not legitimate and react with shame, indifference, or righteous anger. Thus, Muslims across the world not only face problems in the form of daily stressors such as studies, work, relationship problems, or death of loved ones but also face problems in the form of lack of security and labels for crimes of others.

    The objective of this article was to raise awareness about the mental health issues faced by the Muslim community today. It is not intended to hurt anyone's religious or cultural sentiments.

    Responses 1

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Aug 07, 2017 05:26 PM

      This is a good piece of information. I did not know about how Muslims view mental health as a stigma and loss of connection from God. The line wherein you wrote that God/Allah will be there for them and the importance of emotional support, is so true. Praying may provide with mental strength for facing a problem but the actual solution can be provided by those who know us or some therapist or counsellor. The last lines remind me of generalisation in the principles of learning. Everyone is different and if a particular group of people may have malevolent thoughts, that does not mean everyone thinks the same way.

  • 31 Jul
    Aparna Kanmani

    How to deal with a cheating spouse?

    Life can turn upside down when you know your spouse is cheating on you. The heartbreaking moment would bring the harsh reality into light while shattering your trust and belief, in not just one but all domains of life.

    My friend, from where you are right now, the life ahead is not going to be the same. It all depends on you, whether to choose a new life or bargain with the existing one. The reason why he or she shifted attention may be many but what is important is to sense that things are changing around you two. 

    • F‌inding faults in everything. If you were picking on every single thing they do may be it's time to realize that you have nothing in common. That's okay as long as both are willing to adjust and adapt. If that level of tolerance breaks then there is no point continuing a dead end relationship.
    • ‌Forgotten love. Think of the last time you told him or her “I love you” or the last time you had a heartfelt talk during dinner. If you have forgotten its existence, then your life has, unfortunately, become monotonous. There is nothing more exciting in life you both follow the same old routine which you don't care to change.
    • Misunderstandings.Every time you say or do something your spouse takes it the wrong way. Small misunderstandings may be talked over and resolved then and there. If you have been piling up complaints towards your spouse over a period of time then it ought to burst out one day or another.
    • No efforts to make each other happy. Each one's expectations from the partner are different. What is important for one may seem negligible for another. An empty dissatisfied relationship can pull the spirit out of life and make life disappointing.
    • Avoiding staying around. Impulsive urges, when acted upon, can twist a healthy relationship. One may not be able to resist the pleasure available from a source other than the spouse. This may be an intentional or unintentional (impulsive) act but leaves a deep scar that cannot be undone.

    Whatever the reason may be, you have been cheated on and it's not fair; but remember, life doesn't end there. The cultural and societal pressure is only dust's worth. The fear of tolerance may press you to stay where you are forcing tolerance down your throat. But think. No one other than you is going to be the victim. What has happened has happened. Future is completely in your hands.

    Here's what you do next to find peace for yourself.

    1) Evaluate the relationship: Take a moment and think about your relationship. All the ups and downs you have been through and how much the other means to you. You need to know where the relationship was going and is it worth taking it forward.

    2) ‌Talk to your spouse: Confession time! This is the hardest part but you need to talk to your spouse and give them a chance to explain themselves. The motto is not to dig the past and find faults on each other or mark your sacrifices in the relationship. Just understand where they are standing and how willing they are to take this forward.

    3) ‌Understand your feelings: Once you know what they have in mind try to figure out what you want. ‌Would you like to give the relationship another chance or break away? Be sure of what you are feeling.

    4) ‌Be practical and not emotional: Patient thinking is key. Don't make hasty decisions out of anger or distress. Being too emotional may hide your weakness and strengths which will cost you the future. If you are not an earning member and you choose to end the relationship think of how financially independent you can be in the future.

    5) ‌Think of your children: Things become more complicated when you have people dependent on your well being. Children (or old age parents) should be considered before making any quick decisions. They are too vulnerable to manage.

    6) ‌Make a decision: Considering all the above things make a wise decision. You can take help of a trusted friend or a therapist to make sure you don't take unreasonable steps towards the future and also to comfort yourself that moment.

    “For men may come and men may go, but I go on forever...” -Alfred Tennyson

    Whatever happens, life goes on. You have a million reasons to live for. Among them, your spouse's love and attention are only one of them. Your children, career, or parents may be where you find direction in your life. Never make hasty decisions in anger and depression. Talk to a professional if you don't trust anyone or choose not to disclose your personal worries. Although, it is really good to pour it out to at least one person so that these thoughts don't suffocate you.

    With the rapidly changing world, we are losing the value for one's emotions. There is a lack of commitment and adjustability in the budding relationships. While some being too dependent and the other being too independent, we lack a balance where the two fall in place. Every person is beautiful in their own way. However, some may fail to recognise that and realise it only when it is too late.

    Be bold; Be confident; The world is yours; Go out and call it a day. 

    Responses 1

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Aug 26, 2017 06:12 PM

      All the points in this article bring out the fact that the comfortability level with the spouse is very important. Expressing yourself is important be it in terms of expressing love or explaining if something is making one feel uncomfortable.

      I liked the point where in you mentioned that in today's time people are lacking in emotions. I believe it is because of the fact that in this age of technology, people do not have time for anything and want everything as quick as possible. This is why they do not have time for commitment for long term relationships.

      I don't understand why society views something like divorce so negatively. It is their own choice whether to live together or live separately. I reckon they never view marriage as associated with sentiments but as something without which life is incomplete.

  • 30 Jul
    Shruti Gupta Delhi

    Sex Education in India

     Sex.

    The term that cannot be used in public, the term that cannot be talked about - as if it’s something as demonic as Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series.

    It is strange how often we talk about almost everything ranging from politics to idiotic TV series, but when it comes to sex, every mouth is shut – as if something bad has been said; as if it is something we should be ashamed of. It is indeed ironic that a phenomenon that keeps us going and is the reason for our existence, is never really spoken about in a developing country like India.

    Sex Education

    sex education


    The education which intends to create awareness about the distinct nature of male and female bodies is known as sex education.  It refers to delivery of organized materials regarding sex, sexuality, and pregnancy, especially among the youth.

    We are living in a society where the simplest of the things are complicated. And questions like ‘where do babies come from?’, are answered through made up stories of spiritualism and God.

    Coming back to the point - Why is sex education a taboo in India?

    1. Narrow mentality
      We have often seen how our ministers talk about how ‘obscene’ sex is and how educating people about sex will prove to be a ‘bad influence’ on the youth.
      In 2007, when the ministry of Human Resources and Development initiated to make sex education compulsory in schools, it was opposed by many as they thought it to be contrary to the traditional Indian values. They claimed this drive of awareness among youth to be ‘imposition of westernized culture’. The opposition by our very own selected and elected ministers led to the ban of sex education in eight states of the country.

      sex education a taboo

    2. Teachers refraining from talking about it
      During the training of teachers in the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), it had been observed that teachers refrained from talking about it directly to the adolescents. Even though it had been added to the curriculum as a part of biology, teachers preferred avoiding the topic due to the stigma attached to it.

    3. Communication gap between child and parent
      No matter how advanced or modernized any parent might be, when it comes to talking about sex, every parent is just the same. Their idea is to never talk about the basic things that a teenager is required to know and let them assume that babies are born by the grace of God. They don't even realize when their ward grows up and finds out about it on their own. There’s only one loophole in this entire theory – there is no reliability of the information that they have – and that, unfortunately, makes a huge difference.

    Consequences:

    1. Turning to unreliable sources for information
      It is human tendency to be more curious about the things that we are not allowed to know. Due to the immense exposure to the hands-on internet, the curiosity of adolescents leads them to get incorrect information. The Internet, though a library of information, is not always reliable.
      Out of excitement, students often share such information with their peers, which further results in the transfer of half or improper information. Consequently, students know nothing that they need to know and begin building up myths.

    2. Teenage pregnancies and STDs
      Lack of awareness among youth leads them to experiment with their lifestyles. They also end up having unprotected sex due to this lack of awareness. India is among those countries which have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy. Although one of the reasons for the same is early marriage, the other reason is a lack of awareness about birth control and safe sex.
      Unsafe sex is also the cause of an alarming rise in sexually transmitted diseases like Chlamydia, Syphilis, and HIV AIDS. It was noted that in 2015 about 1,08,000 people died all over the world due to sexually transmitted infections other than HIV.

      importance of sex education
    3. Teens hiding out instead of confiding
      The stigma created by teachers and parents has led the teenagers to believe that sex is something to be ashamed of which is why it is often seen in a negative light. Teens, therefore, prefer sharing their doubts and apprehensions with their friends rather than their family.

     

    What can be done?

    • Sex education should be made a part of the curriculum.
    • Teachers and parents must not refrain from talking to their wards about sex. They should act as guides and make sure that the adolescents are comfortable in speaking with them about the same. Teachers might check with students to know if the information they have is correct.
    • Schools must have counselors regarding the same. There are schools where students can anonymously post sexual health related queries which are being attended by the counselors. 
    • It is imperative to spread awareness about male and female reproductive systems and how they work before teenagers find out on their own and make deviated choices in life.

    I believe the importance of spreading awareness related to sex education among the youth is evident now. Not just because they are at an age where they should know these things, but because they need to be informed before they make wrong decisions for themselves due to improper guidance.                                                                                                                                                                     

    Responses 1

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Aug 01, 2017 11:17 PM

      The article is on point about how sex education is negligible in the current Indian scenario. One of the points that teenagers resort to Internet for gaining more information about the same, is so true. They access various porn website which contain sexually aggressive content which can hamper the young minds. Even parents should realise that sex is a necessary biological process and there is no harm discussing about it to adolescents. On the other side of it, it is good to see that the the teenagers are more liberal towards discussing such sensitive issues. But still there is a long way ahead.

  • 30 Jul
    Reshma Venugopal

    Well done! Akshay Kumar's parents

    Akshay Kumar

    In a recent and rather an outrageous revelation, the Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar confessed that he had also been a victim of “inappropriate touching” as a six-year old. He spoke of his assault by his lift-man at a seminar on women empowerment in Mumbai. As a kid, he managed to communicate with his parents about the incident well, after which, they filed a police complaint against the assaulter. Soon, after the lift-man was arrested, it was revealed that he had been a regular abuser, and had had a history of doing the same with many other children.

    Akshay Kumar revealed that the only reason he could even remotely get through it was because he was efficiently able to communicate the same to his parents. He emphasized the need for individuals today to talk about abuse with whoever they feel comfortable with so that proper action can be taken against the those who harass.

    Due to this incident, he said, that the word “bum” agitates him. It is strange that a word we so frequently use brings back haunting memories to the actor.

    Kumar is currently holding promotions for his upcoming movie, Toilet - Ek Prem Katha, and looking at him moving on from the past, we encourage all the victims to seek help if they are struggling with something similar. It is better to leave the past behind than holding it back for a lifetime.

    This was a story worth telling so as to spread awareness about sexual harassment and an attempt to reduce such occurrences.

    While this is just one such exposé, there are a million cases of sexual harassment which remain unreported. One of the major reasons being a lack of communication between parents and their children. People often do not find it comfortable to talk to anyone about it due to the stigma attached to the subject. It is associated with humiliation and awkwardness which makes them see things in a negative light.

    This is exactly what we need to change. We need to educate the people around us, especially the children, to be bold and brave enough to report such heinous crimes. Therefore, we encourage a healthy communication between parents and children.

    Even if it is an inapt stare from a stranger or an inappropriate touch - women, children, and men, young or old are not expected to sit through this and be fine. Sexual harassment is a crime and must not go unreported.

    Here are some points that encourage and ensure a healthy communication between parents and family members:

    STEP 1: From an early age, make your child feel that they are free to talk to their parents whenever and about whatever. Often children tend to develop a wall barring the communication between parents and children because they feel that they will get into trouble. Every child or even their elders in order to avoid awkward moments, tend to hide things related to sex, the right touch, and harassment. In this light,“whenever about whatever”, implies speaking about such topics at an appropriate age, of course. Parents can begin this process by simply teaching their children about good and bad touches, as soon as possible, and how they must inform their parents if they feel anyone is touching them inappropriately. If parents are strict about this, children would be able to report such incidents without much hesitation.

    STEP 2: Spend quality time with your children every day. No matter how much work you may have, or other commitments, spending at least half an hour with your child to learn about their lives can help them create a safe space. They will know that you are willing to know about their lives, and this way, even if the child is not able to say certain things, you will know what doesn’t match up and catch the indifference.

    Take up activities that make you spend time with your ward. Take parent-child classes, watch a movie together, play with them (if they are that young), go for vacations, have naps together, etc. These activities will only increase your bond with your child, and more bonding implies more openness.

    STEP 3: Make them aware of the harsh realities of the world. Parents and elders are often seen saying,“they are too young to know this”. Agreed, they are too young to know about the gruesome truths about the world, but it is the same world they are living in. You don’t have to be extremely clear and transparent about it, but there are many ways you can convey the story to your child. Let them know the types of people who might approach them when they are alone, and how they can avoid them. Let them know the possible things they could do whenever they find themselves in such a place through examples.

    STEP 4: Don’t let them feel you are unapproachable. Whenever your child comes to you with a worried face, don’t ignore it. Ask them what happened and let them know that they don’t have to be afraid of sharing anything with you. Don’t get irritated when they say things that might seem irrelevant to you. They don’t know a lot of things, so parents must deal with them in a subtle manner.

     

    Children are always subjected to some sort of unwanted occurring. Sadly, our world is not as safe as the children imagine to reside in. Therefore, parents need to be more alert. No matter how firm you are, a welcoming and trusting side of you towards your ward is appreciated. Don’t teach your children to fear you, but respect you so that they can communicate with you efficiently. If Akshay Kumar, at the age of 6 could speak of it, so can you.

    Thank you, Akshay Kumar, you’ve really been a great example for young parents and everyone.

    Do you want to share your story with us? Drop us an email to support@ewellnessexpert.com or write in the comments below.

    Responses 1

    • Sanjna Verma
      Sanjna Verma   Aug 14, 2017 10:07 PM

      We often associate sexual abuse with girls and women but this is something anyone can go through irrespective of their gender. And yes, it is really important to raise our voice against it. Also, if someone touches you inappropriately, it is important to not get scared by it and assert yourself to the assaulter and telling to a close one, preferably parents and file a report against it. It is very good thing that such practices have been termed as crime.

      If you go through a newspaper, such cases of children of around the age group of 3 to 11-12 years children having experienced sexual harassment in schools. The worst part is that it is not just the men, even women engage in such activities. Such events are a traumatic experience for a child, especially.

      The steps you wrote in this article is something every parent should follow so as to ensure a healthy and happy life of their child.

       

  • 29 Jul
    Reshma Venugopal

    7 things your brother never tells you

     

    Remember the days when you would find your favourite toy or doll ripped apart? Who could do such a heinous crime you would think. Maybe you will even spend 80% of the time crying about it because you know your mom is not going to believe that it was not you. Eventually, while listening to your mom scolding you, you see with the corner of your eye, a head peeking from the doors. Wait, you recognize that head! That large head could only belong to one creature, your brother. You know very well what peeping means - revenge - for the times when you scribbled into his note books or did something equally bad to him. I mean it’s just payback, right?
    To teach him a lesson, you decide to pay back by ruining something precious that belongs to him or just being annoying in your sisterly or younger brotherly way. The cycle continues, and each day is a new day for a new revenge.

    Okay, maybe things were never this dramatic for you. Perhaps you had that relationship with your brother which contained zero words. However, there is always going to moments you can cherish, regardless of all the silly quarrels and pointless arguments (my favourite one is fighting over the remote). In India, we celebrate Raksha Bandhan honouring the sacred relationship that siblings share.  It is a day on which sisters tie their brothers an auspicious thread around their wrists and the brothers, in turn, promise to always protect them no matter what.

    While we celebrate this joyous occasion, let me tell you a few things that you never knew about your brother, because well, he never really told you.

     

    • You will always be his baby sister

    It doesn't matter if you graduated, or even have a family of your own, he is still going to treat you like a small confused child. It might even get annoying sometimes, but the point behind this is the beautiful thought of always protecting you. Even if you are the elder one, your brother is never going to make you feel like one; as if he wants to reassure time and again that no matter who leaves you behind in life, your dear brother won’t.

     

                                                                                                                           -Pintrest.com

                                                                                   

     

    • He thinks about you more often than you think.

    He might not say it that much, but the truth is that he is always wondering if you are safe and okay. This is especially true if you live apart from each other because you are all grown up, living your own private lives and of course, the distance due to which he cannot be there with you. Even though your phone doesn’t ping with his name every day, he is surely hoping that you are okay and happy. If you don’t believe me, ask your mom or dad (or any one he talks to more often) and I am sure they will vouch for that.

     

    • You bring out the best in him

    Studies show that siblings who have grown up together and share a close bond are more confident, especially when it comes to relationships. Along with that, they are known to help each other excel in their interpersonal skills. To state an example - if you are brought up with an older sibling with a combative attitude, you are more likely to learn to fight for yourself and face situations which may require some sort of set of rights (Business Insider, 2017).  At the same time, if you are an older fraternal kid then you are likely to easily acquire nurturing skills because guess who your parent’s preference goes to when they are looking for a baby sitter for their younger child, you, and these skills will go a long way.

                                                                                                      -Pintrest.com

     

    • He will always have your back 

    Let’s all please sit down and agree on one thing. Watching your sibling in trouble is definitely a sight to watch. But on the other hand, if you ever see your sibling in a deep, grave trouble, they will stand up for you. The veracity is that they just can’t stand any emotional wounds that you might have to go through. According to studies, siblings who must face conflicts with their parents (divorce and separation), tend to be closer (Business Insider, 2017).

    • He doesn’t like your life partner

    “Because no man is ever going to good enough for my sister.”, just like your father would say. Your brother is never going to be too impressed with the man who claims to love you, for it is something completely impossible for your dear brother. He will make sure your boyfriend or husband knows not to mess with you or him. He will, therefore, do everything to intimidate and push your significant other to his limits. He wants to see how much pressure your man can handle.

    • He will never compliment you

    Even if you wear a designer dress and look your best, he is ever going to compliment you. At the most, he will say, “Where did you get that dress from?”, and that is probably the only way to know if he noticed your outfit. No matter how beautiful you look on any given day, for your brother, you will always be that girl who can never look good.

     

    • He will always buy you gifts

    This is probably the best and sweetest thing a brother does for you. It’s the little gifts and surprises he gets you randomly to make you feel special. It could be a simple pair of earrings, a top, or even take away from your favourite restaurant. Though he will always act like it's not a big deal, he always loves to see that smile spurring on your face.  

     

    If you imagine the world without your brothers, you would probably be scared. They do not always have to be your biological blood brother, they can be your cousin or even your favorite guy friend who has always protected you. This Raksha Bandhan, gather all your favorite brothers and let them know how much you appreciate and love them.

     

    Responses 1

    • Heena Sheth
      Heena Sheth   Aug 07, 2017 09:08 PM

      So I made my brother read this beautiful article you've written, and he was just taken aback by it (in a good way, of course). He was absolutely surprised how so much of this is true. I could literally read it on his face, but when I asked him about it, he went into denial and started pulling my leg, well that's what brothers do, don't they?

      I feel really blessed that I have the company of my brothers. I come back home from an exhaustive day in college, and they are ready to listen to everything that happened with me there. They often ask me about fashion tips and how their hair looks. When they were younger, I had to do their projects too!

      Thanks Reshma for writing this article, I find myself reminiscing of the beautiful times spent with my brothers.