With the COVID-19 pandemic catching the world by surprise, physicians and other healthcare providers have had to find ways to continue providing patients with treatment, while also keeping patients safe from possible infection. This spans physical and mental health treatment providers and facilities. Furthermore, studies have shown American Muslims often do not seek mental health services due to stigma and discomfort with sharing their stories to “strangers”. Telehealth has become ever more important to help American Muslims and the general population access services.
It has been quite a month. A month since a microscopic force turned our worlds upside down. Thanks to Zoom meetups, memes, and attempting to homeschool four kids, I am relatively stable emotionally. But there are moments the emotions start to overflow and I get overwhelmed with anxious thoughts or become overcome with grief. I know I’m not the only one. Besides being mental health professionals, we have other roles too, as parents, children, in-laws, siblings and friends. And with these various roles come a plethora of responsibilities. Sometimes it feels like we have to hold it together to keep everyone else from falling apart. And so, I wanted to check in with YOU, my fellow healers — when was the last time someone asked, “how are you doing today?”
Stigma surrounding mental health is something that every community deals with, even in this current day and age. These stigmas are even more pronounced in traditional religious communities where mental illness gets chalked up to supernatural entities. As a result, many individuals in Muslim communities, especially the youth, do not get the attention they need in order to properly and safely tackle mental health issues. Two issues that are relevant in the lives of many Muslim youth today are self-harm and substance abuse. These two issues, already a serious global health and medical problem affecting people of many backgrounds, are highly stigmatized within Muslim populations. This leads to a lack of self-reporting and subsequently, a lack of treatment for those harming themselves physically or through repeated drug use.
The Syrian crisis has entered its seventh year. The country that once birthed the cradle of civilization is destroyed to a great extent and will likely never be the same. 13.5 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian aid – 5.8 million of which are children. Meanwhile, more than half a million Syrians have been killed, and millions (5 million, as reported by UNHCR this week) more have been displaced around the world since the beginning of one of the most devastating and protracted conflicts of our time.
Political analysts, bloggers, comedians, and researchers have kept the recent presidential election in the limelight through endless polls, studies and news articles. While the outcome of this election along with the antiquated electoral college is called into question, we cannot dismiss the unique significance of this political era regardless of one’s party affiliation. Trump’s victory has left most of us head-scratching – or, perhaps, hair-pulling. Some of us have been compelled to seek mental health services and even need medication to cope with the heightened anxiety, uncertainty, and hostile climate. This has been especially true for those who fall into the branded groups cast out by the Trump Administration, with Muslims near the top of the list of undesirables. In a seeming war between good and evil, our world appears upside down.