How often do you think to check on your friend’s mental health? Is it in the forefront of your mind or a forbidden topic? There is a movement to end the stigma that has surrounded mental health for centuries and finally allow people to seek help and speak about their experiences without being looked down upon and shamed.
Part of living as a Christ-follower is letting Him into the messy parts of our lives – including our mental health – and seeking to love people in the messy parts of their lives. While historically, Christians are not innocent of stigmatizing mental health, many are now becoming more intentional about taking care of the entire person – spirit, body, and mind.
How comfortable are you talking about mental health? If you noticed that your Muslim friend was acting differently, would you check on them? Your Muslim friend might be at a disadvantage when it comes to getting help, because of the shame and stigma about mental health that still exists strongly in Islamic communities. In fact, Muslim families are quick to cover up and ignore any mental health issues for the sake of protecting the family name.
Islamic stigma around mental health
In Islamic culture, there is an extreme pressure from parents on the children to be healthy and successful. If you read our blog post, “What shapes your Muslim friend into who they are today,” you will learn that Islamic parents are quick to boast about their successful children. But if any of their children has a health problem, or disability, or mental health issue, they are usually hidden away from the public eye – especially the girls.
Muslims consider mental health issues to be either a trial or a punishment from Allah. There are a lot of witchcraft practices in Islam, and many will turn to that to try to cure their mental health problems. Also, because of Folk Islam practices, Muslims will often blame their mental health problems on rituals. They may think their enemies are doing witchcraft against them or the presence of satanic spirits that afflict the mind. Many who suffer from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, addictions, and suicidal thoughts try to hide their pain. They suffer silently or seek medications to lull the pain.
How to support your Muslim friend who is struggling
If you’ve noticed that your Muslim friend is not acting like themself recently, we know that they might not be comfortable asking for help or even admitting that they have something going on. So, what can you do to help your Muslim friend who is struggling with mental health?
- Check on them. Tell them that you’ve noticed a change in them, and see if they open up. Make sure to communicate with them that you are bringing this up because you care about them and want to make sure that they have someone to talk to about their struggles.
- Tell them you are praying for them – and then pray for them. Maybe this experience can help them know the true God and His love for them! You can even offer to pray with them.
- Assist them in finding professional help. There are many resources online that can help connect people to therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists.
- De-stigmatize the topic of mental health by being open with them about your experiences! Your Muslim friend might not open up about their mental health struggles unless they know that you will not judge or shame them for it, so if you’ve struggled with it, share!
Prayer for your Muslim friend’s mental health
Dear Jesus, thank you for giving me comfort in the middle of all my struggles. I know that you always see me and love me – and I pray that my Muslim friend can learn this too. May they find You and see a transformation in their life and mental health when Your presence enters their life. Amen.
Are you struggling with your mental health?
God’s heart is filled with love towards you. He is waiting for you to tell Him about your pains and struggles. He is our comfort in times of trouble. If you are having mental health issues, you are not a bad person – there is nothing sinful about it. Mental health can be a struggle because we live in a broken world; sometimes our brains don’t process things as they should, and sometimes life events can really take a toll on us.
The good news is that we have Jesus to help us. Scripture says over and over again that He loves us unconditionally and desires to bear our burdens with us:
- Romans 8:35-39 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
- In John 15:9, Jesus tells us to abide in His love.
- Psalm 9 talks about God being a stronghold for us in times of trouble.
You never have to go through mental health struggles alone. God is there for you, and you can also turn to the people God has placed in your life for support. Whether it is a close friend or family member, pastor, or small group leader, reach out, tell them how you’ve been doing, and ask for help.
If you need help with your mental health please do not hesitate to get help, and share these resources with your Muslim friend:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Sexual Assault Hotline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Options for Deaf and Hard of Hearing)
For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline
Veterans Crisis Line
(800) 273-8255, PRESS 1