The relationship between sexual health and mental health is not always obvious and not often spoken about. However, our experiences with sex, our sexualities, and social prescriptions for sexual behaviour can have a profound influence our mental health, and so those working in mental health care with Muslim clients need to pay attention to the research, however limited it is, on the sexual health of Muslims.

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“For 15 years, I thought I had the happiest marriage. I believed I was one of the lucky ones, but then I found out he was having an affair. It devastated me! It was like waking up to a nightmare from a fairy tale…I know Allah tests those he loves, but I couldn’t handle it.”

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As Muslim clinicians, advocating for the basic human rights of the LGBTQ community is a step toward social justice for one of many vulnerable populations. The clinical consequences of neglecting to support LGBT youth and individuals is staggering, including risk of suicide, other mental illness, substance abuse, and ongoing trauma from discrimination. 

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Another call came in. I knew what to expect — another woman, distressed and frantic. Her marriage was falling apart, and she was eager to piece it back together, or figure out what else she could do to make it work. Ending the marriage was not on the table for her, but she was drastically unhappy, and so was her spouse. He was a good person, she said, but their marriage was gasping for air — what could she do to bring it back to life?

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There is an oft-repeated verse of the Qur’an that says, “Ask the people of knowledge if you don’t know.”  It encourages consultation of an expert in times of crisis. In Muslim America, it means that the Imam, both grounded in Islamic knowledge and in a position of public trust, is often the first person American Muslims think to call in times of crisis.  Far too often, it means that the late night callers – one reporting spousal abuse, a teenager with issues at school, and another seeking a listening ear – believe that the Imam holds an immediate solution to their problem. Far too often, the person some of these individuals truly need is a mental health professional.

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As Muslim mental health practitioners, we are engaging in the jihad of speaking truth to power every day with our praxis. We make known the benefits of being a practicing Muslim through research, community wellness, and consciousness raising. We observe the religious responsibilities of Islam and live a spiritual life based on Islam. These reflections and actions are the greatest jihad of speaking truth to power.

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As Muslim clinicians, we know firsthand the challenges and blessings of Ramadan and fasting. Fasting can be a struggle, even for the healthy individual. But how does fasting and Ramadan affect our patients? From timing medications such as stimulants, to dosing twice daily regimens to help with mood stabilization or depression – sometimes we assume our patients will figure out answers to these complicated questions on their own.

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The normalization of narcissism has become a prevalent issue in society, one commonly displayed in a positive light in the media. Our culture celebrates athletes whose trash-talking and declarations of being “the best” are coded as “swag” as well as high-powered, overpaid executives whose grandiose behavior is framed as bold.  Until recently, politicians fixated on…

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Let’s face it, being a Muslim mental health professional isn’t always easy. We often times deal with stigma from all around – from within the community, from society and from in the masjid. We may share a common desire to provide care, healing and hope to the mentally ill members  of our very own Muslim…

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