The Evolving Struggles with Mental Health (Podcast)

“Mental health has not had the light it needs for so long…but we’re slowly becoming more emotionally literate.”

On this week’s TMV Podcast, Chief Editor Salim Kassam speaks to Zohra Khaku, the Director of the Muslim Youth Helpline – focusing on the need to continue to have conversations around mental health, especially with young Muslims.

Listen to the full podcast below:

Zohra Khaku, Director of the Muslim Youth Helpline, spoke on the necessity of making the discussions around mental health normal and accessible for all – especially with the recent increase in calls to the helpline since the COVID-19 lockdowns.

With a more than 300% increase in calls since COVID-19, Zohra explains that the majority of calls revolve around anxiety and, worryingly, suicidal feelings. Many have lost loved ones, livelihoods, and a sense of security since the lockdowns began, which has, in turn, caused many to struggle with their mental health.

While the implications of COVID-19 and mental health are serious, Zohra also wants society to realize that mental health issues do not only happen during a crisis or international pandemic – mental health issues have been and always will be there, we just need to be open and ready to accept how to deal with it.

Mental health has not had the light it needs for so long…but we’re slowly becoming more emotionally literate.”

Optimistically noticing how there has been a shift, however, Zohra does feel a sense of hope in that as a society we are becoming more literate and aware of the struggles of mental health. The stigma of reaching out for help is also lessening, and Zohra hopes that by continuing to speak out and get personal about our own struggles with mental health, this can encourage more people to do the same.

Having all of us talk about mental health like a normal thing is so important for the next generation. We need to be bold and talk about it first.”

Also touching on the topic of the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, Zohra explains that as Muslims we must also look towards the Prophet’s life for guidance and help – the Prophet had on numerous occasions cried in public, and was not afraid of showing his emotions to those he loved. We must, she reiterates, look towards our own Islamic history to help us better understand how we can cope with and deal with our health – both physical and mental.

Zohra also touched on the topic of parents becoming more involved as opposed to the stereotypes of previous generations – with many positive and inspiring stories of parents encouraging their children to discuss their emotions, mental health, and struggles.

What people are realizing is that it takes a village to raise a child. Parents are understanding that they’re not bad parents just because their child reaches out to places like Muslim Youth Helpline, and are becoming more open to using outside expertise.”

To listen to the rest of this fascinating podcast, click below:

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