We were invited by the Malayalee Muslim Cultural and Welfare Association to run an interactive talk about youth mental health to 80 members of the Malayalee community in Central Mosque of Brent. We covered statistics around youth mental health, the common problems faced in the Muslim community between parents and children (one being the struggle to find a balance between the west and Islamic cultural practices) and we also provided attendees with practical solutions to address this problem using examples from the Sunnah. The target audience mainly involved parents, however, there were also young people who attended.
The talk went smoothly and it was observed and felt that the parents and the youth in the audience were in need of this talk. The interactive activities we had really helped us engage the audience. For example, we had a role play acted out by facilitators and members of the audience. And we also invited parents and children in the audience to practice the practical steps given in the talk to role play with the person next to them. This worked a treat as many members of the audience verbally reflected on how they would visibly show their children and teenagers that they are listening through their tone and body language. I thoroughly enjoyed running this talk and like the other talks and workshops I have delivered, there’s a growing need to run more mental health awareness events especially around practical skills.
May Allah make it easy for parents and young people of our day and age, may He allow all of us to develop the necessary skills to emulate the Prophet (SAW) in order to raise young people who will bring coolness to our eyes and may He protect us from hardship. Ameen.
~ Farhana Maleque
We were invited to speak about a really important issue –mental health in children and adolescents as a part of a conference on well-being. This is a key topic because mental well-being in children is known to predict mental well-being in adulthood and this is something that many factions of the Muslim community have started to think more about, Alhamdulillah.
Our talk included facts and figures about mental health, reflections on the underlying causes and maintenance of mental health problems and live demonstrations of relationship building skills for parents and children. The reflective and practical elements of the presentation were well received by the audience. There was a real feeling that the audience connected with the message we were trying to get out – that is to be at the forefront of understanding the factors that will improve mental health in children and adolescents and building the skills to work towards better mental health within this group.
The audience was varied with both parents, children and adolescents in attendance. Personally for me, it was wonderful to see young faces helping within their community and learning about things that they can use to start up a conversation with their parents and peer group. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the whole conference and appreciated the positive feedback from the organisers and audience as it showed me that the message was received well – Alhamdulillah.
~ Tanveen Choudhury
Our team was invited by the Malayalee Muslim Cultural and Welfare Association (MMCW) to their Health and Wellbeing Conference. We were specifically asked to deliver a talk about Mental Health issues of the young Muslims in Britain, which was delivered by myself and my lovely colleagues Tanveen and Farhana.
I was quite anxious about how the South Indian community would receive our talk, as Mental Health is a big taboo in our culture. My background is very similar to theirs thus I had my doubts. The conference was held at Willesden masjid, therefore, the first thing I did when I went there was to pray my dhuhr and asked Allah (SWT) to make it easy for me and guide me. I feel obliged to mention how beautiful the mosque was, the women’s section was mashaAllah, so beautiful, spacious and well kept. I immediately felt at ease.
When we went down to the event hall, we were greeted with warm smiles by the organisers and they had even arranged for a volunteer to receive us and host us. We were treated with delicious Keralan biriyani which I can still taste and I wish I had another plate!
My segment was on “How to build relationships with children”. For this segment, I drew my knowledge from various sources, from Yasir Qadhi’s Qur’anic duas I learnt this Ramadan, compassion-focused CBT skills and my own childhood experience with my parents, especially my father. Most of what I spoke of came from my heart and I pray that they benefitted from this. It certainly bought back a lot of beautiful memories from my childhood for me, especially the ones where my father used to teach me duas and surahs every night; how he would make me say the adhan dua out loud, no matter whose house I was at each time we heard it (unlike this country, we can hear the adhan in my country); he would make me drop whatever I was in the middle of doing (mostly playing outdoors) and get me to pray and read Quran every maghrib and I was only 7 or 8 years old. Alhamdulillah, I am extremely grateful for this, as it has certainly disciplined me and taught me to prioritise Allah over worldly matters. What I love most about these memories is that, he taught these things with a lot of kindness and compassion which is not common in Asian parenting. I can only thank Allah for this.
One of the highlights at this talk was when I had to demonstrate the difference between talking critically and harshly vs compassionately. I needed members from the audience to help me with this and to my surprise I had a lovely young teenager who was very sportive, who played the “student” role exceptionally. My aim was to show how our tone, gestures, facial expression and language makes a difference to another in distress, especially a child. As a parent, the way we talk to our children, often become their own critical voice. Thus highlighting the importance of kindness and mercy, taught from Quran and our beloved Prophet (saw).
The most unexpected but a heart touching moment for me was when they called the elders and leaders of the community to give us each a beautifully wrapped gift. I did not have any doubts with their hospitality; however they certainly exceeded my expectations with their kindness. I am so pleased and honoured that I had a small part to contribute in this conference. It was a beautiful journey down my memory lane and helped me to brush up my skills and knowledge in this area.
Please take some time to read this article regarding a hadith of our Prophet (saw)’s relationship with his daughter. There are several benefits we can gain from this hadith, 33 to be exact. I pray you benefit from this inshaAllah.
~ Azmara Moulana
Feedback by attendees:
“May Allah shower his blessing on you all. We can’t thank you enough for the session yesterday. Literally, everyone loved your session, this is not an exaggeration. “
“Your talk was superb and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone loved your talk. Soon after the events, I had a number of requests from the parents that were there to arrange a more focused meeting for parents and separately for the youngsters. We are indeed keen to collaborate more and work with you all closely.”
Top tip for Muslim community members:
- Have a drop in session for the youth so it gives them an opportunity to come and share their difficulties and ask questions without being judged.
- Have an anonymous question box in your local mosque / local community centre so it eases the pressure of others knowing who has asked the question
- Have open discussions with the youth/ your children about sensitive topics, despite not knowing the answer. You can always tell the young person that you need to find out the answer first before giving them an answer.
If you would like to get involved in raising awareness about mental health in your local community, we are looking to grow our Outreach Team to different cities around the country. We will ensure that you are fully trained and confident before running workshops and talks. Please visit our vacancies page for more information.