This post was originally uploaded to mindofmary.com on 20th May 2018
A couple of Ramadans ago, I made a doodle pointing out the struggles that Muslims dealing with mental illness go through during Ramadan (not being able to fast or having to deal with eating disorder triggers and even feeling left out of the community because of their inability to participate through fasting).
One question I was asked a lot after making the doodle was; ‘What can I do to help Muslims struggling with mental illness during Ramadan?’. And so here’s my answer: Ramadan (like most communal occasions) can be an isolating and lonely time, so go out of your way to include those who are struggling. Show them and tell them that you see them, that you care and that you are there for them. Ask them how they’re doing and be available to wholesomely listen. Offer them a place at your iftar table, give them a lift to the mosque for taraweeh or just spend Ramadan days with them, reciting Quran or even reminiscing over fond memories. Your love means a lot more than you can imagine and, to me, this is what it means to be Muslim.
Awesome strides have been made by various charitable bodies (such as @inspiritedminds ) to help eradicate the stigma within Muslim communities against mental illnesses. However, unfortunately, it still exists. I have faith in all of us to one day overcome the stigma by opening up our minds to more inquisitive and accepting dialogue about mental illness, to come together and try to understand the struggles our brothers and sisters in Islam go through and to put our newfound knowledge into real world actions. Mental illnesses are quieter and, usually, more devastating than we think they are; your actions this Ramadan (and every other day of the year) really can save a life.
Useful links for struggling souls:
inspiritedminds.org.uk – Muslim mental health charity, Inspirited Minds
Mind.org.uk – Mind, a mental health charity that offers live support and information
betterhelp.com – More affordable online counselling for a whole range of issues
b-eat.co.uk – live support for eating disorders
Your local GP – don’t be afraid to ask for help – we all need that extra support from time to time. You are no different! 🙂