Mental Health in Islamic Societies
Over the last year in particular I have been working as a teacher for many brothers and sisters from Asian backgrounds – and in addition have spent time studying why Mental Health should be such a taboo for some societies. We know for example where families will take their parents to the doctor for pills but will not take them at all if they have depression for example.
The concepts of shame and guilt come into many (collectivist cultures) where what happens to one person has knock on effects for others in the family. It can be seen that one person with a mental health issue can affect the marriage prospects of another family member – so better to keep quiet in such situations! Perhaps it is particularly in societies and cultures where there is a strong identification with community – that has to come first and in so doing you lose some of your individuality.
It does not help then if you have a mental health issue and are faced with looking for help! The situation can be ignored – which might make it worse – or blamed on something else that will do spiritual harm.
We have been training people at Alif institute over the last year, where we are training Muslims to work within their own community (and others of course) to try and change long held beliefs and re empower people – we are all Muslims very much convinced that mental health can be changed by a whole manner of ways!
I will be posting more on this soon – it is a vast subject – but please feel free to comment on anything I have written.