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.

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For Naseeha Mental Health, ‘here for you’ is more than just a social media hashtag.  It reflects Naseeha’s nearly 15-year presence as the first line of contact for mental health services for the North American Muslim Community. 

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There is a lack of education and available resources for addressing sexuality with young Muslims in an age-appropriate manner and through an Islamic lens. This becomes worrisome when students are opted out of sex-education classes at school with no alternative education at home or in Islamic institutions. Muslim parents are not fully equipped to have the ‘birds and the bees’ talk with their children and this becomes problematic when curiosity outside the classroom leads to the dark web.

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Since the publication of The Family and Youth Institute (FYI)  Suicide Prevention and Intervention Resources in September of 2017, over 6000 people have accessed the Suicide Prevention and Intervention Resources on the website and almost 25,000 have accessed them through social media outreach. Mosques and community centers are starting to address suicide and mental health issues in programming and Friday sermons. As Sheikh Yaser Birjas mentioned in a Friday sermon this past September, “We live in one society, we are not immune. Cultural shame leads people to feel isolated. There is no shame in seeking help. It is obligatory if you need help or know someone who does that you should seek it [professional help].”

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Living in the digital age with a 24-hour news cycle and global political unrest makes it difficult for teenagers to unplug when tragedies occur. It can be tough for youth to emotionally distance themselves from certain events especially if it feels like their identities are under attack. Young people today also face new challenges when it comes to harassment due to the rise of social media.  Outlets such as Facebook and Twitter can often be a hotbed for hate speech.

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