Mental Health

What is mental health?

The subject under discussion here is of great prominence and certainly, a topic which everyone is ever mindful. The topic which is at matter goes by the world-renowned name of mental health. To begin with, I shall bring to attention the definition of the term “health”. Health is the condition of a person’s body and “the extent to which it is free from illness” or “able to resist” it. Another interpretation of “health” is the state in which a person is not suffering. Both descriptions are of great similarity and convey the resembling idea that health is linked to comfort. To add to this, according to the world health organisation, health comprises physical, psychological and spiritual factors.

This takes us to the actual topic of concern. Mental health.

What is mental health? Everyone is familiar with the topic, but are they truly aware of what mental health really is?

Mental health consists of an individual’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It influences how we feel, think and ultimately act. How we make choices and deal with stress all come under the umbrella of mental health. As well as this, it is also the state in which an individual realises their “own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, work productively and is able” to contribute to their community. When in the right mental state, one has the capability to think, interact, learn and express themselves appropriately. Thus, it is evident that mental health plays a significant role in our lives; in fact, it plays as important of a role as physical health, yet it is critically overlooked.

Taking care of one’s mental health

If nurtured, a healthy mind can assist one in experiencing a great amount of joy and happiness. Parallel to physical health; good mental health can aid a person in a longer and more valuable life. Improving the state of your mental health can increase levels of contentment, calmness, confidence and sense of purpose, to say the least. From these examples, it is evident that – by having good mental health – one is filled with self-acceptance and belief, allowing them to experience a life of freedom from one’s idea of self-worthlessness. Likewise, where a healthy body provides one with the ability to accomplish physical tasks with complete ease and agility; a healthy mind gives a person a pleasing self-image and enables them to feel content about themselves.

Having said that, if one is not attentive to their mental health they are bound to face difficulties. According to WHO, around 450 million people are suffering due to poor mental health. It is a very common and natural mistake to be thoughtless of your mental health due to its invisible state. But, if the mistake is made, it can lead to very dangerous consequences. Some of these effects include: reduced concentration, pain, anxiety and addiction problems. Although, these conditions may not give the impression of concern; they can lead to something of greater magnitude. If left ignored, these problems can amount to a mental disorder or illness.

What is mental illness?

To understand the importance of mental health, we need to first understand what mental illnesses are. Mental illnesses are health conditions concerning changes in thinking, behaviour or emotion (sometimes even a combination of these). To put it another way, mental illness is a condition “which causes serious disorder in a person’s behaviour or thinking”. Mental illness is related to problems functioning in work, social or family activities – some mental illnesses are even associated with genetics.

Causes of mental illness

With this in mind, the cause of mental illnesses requires a closer look. Most mental health professionals have the opinion that there are a variety of causative factors to the onset of a mental illness. Although the exact cause of many mental illnesses is not known – through research – it is becoming detectable that most of these conditions are associated with a combination of biological, environmental and psychological factors. Additionally, there are also believed to be some spiritual causes of mental illness.

One of the biological shortcomings includes an irregular balance of special chemicals in the brain that go by the name of neurotransmitters. The job of neurotransmitters is to help nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other. If there is an abnormal balance in these chemicals or if they do not work effectively, communications may not make it through the brain appropriately, thus, resulting in symptoms of mental illness. Likewise, genetics is also a biological causation for mental illness. A big number of mental illnesses run in families, suggesting that people with a mentally ill family member are more prone to developing it as well. Weakness to mental illness is passed on through genes. Specialists believe mental illnesses to be related to irregularities in many genes; thus, being the reason why a person inherits a vulnerability to a mental illness rather than developing the illness itself. Above all, it is imperative to remember that mental illness occurs from the interaction of many genes and other factors such as abuse, a traumatic event or stress – which can affect or activate an illness in a vulnerable person. Moreover, in the past, infections have been associated with brain damage and the development of mental illness. For instance, an illness known as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infectionsor PANDAS – which affects the Streptococcus bacteria has been connected to the development of certain mental illnesses such as obsessive compulsive disorder. To continue, some brain defects or injuries to some regions of the brain have also been associated to certain mental disorders. Surprisingly, prenatal damage can also be a factor in the development of certain mental illnesses. An example of this is early fatal brain development or trauma occurring at the time of birth (such as loss of oxygen to the brain).

Moving on, the environmental factors that impact mental health are related to a person’s surroundings and the atmosphere of the environment around them. These factors trigger those who are susceptible to mental illness. Some of these stressors include: living in poverty, major changes in life, a dysfunctional family life and social or cultural expectations (such as a society that merges beauty with thinness, causing a development of eating disorders). All the examples mentioned – alongside others such as divorce, death or substance abuse – have the ability to trigger many mental illnesses.

To conclude the scientific causes of mental illness, the psychological factors affecting mental health will be explained. Psychological factors affect the mental and emotional state of a person. Some factors that may contribute to mental illness consist of: extreme psychological trauma suffered at a young age, such as abuse of the three following kinds: emotional, physical or sexual. Other examples include: a loss of something important (such as the loss of a loved one), neglect or the lack of the ability to relate to others.

Another key thing to remember is the religious viewpoint on the causes of mental illness. I will start the list with the reason that Beloved Huzoor abaabbreviation for "May Allah be his helper" has mentioned. This being the attraction to worldly matters; he expresses that a major cause of mental illness today is due to worldly frustrations. The next reason is also associated with the attraction to worldly matters. The Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" said that making great effort to pray for worldly matters can give some mental illness.

To end the causes of mental illness, I will state a reason which comes under both science and religion, a lack of sleep. Modern research shows that sleep is paramount for mental health, and without it our abilities can be reduced, which can result in mental illness. Likewise, this may be the reason why the Quran encourages individuals to have a good night’s sleep. This is stated in chapter 78, verses 10-12.

وَجَعَلْنَا نَوْمَكُمْ سُبَاتًا۔ وَجَعَلْنَا اللَّيْلَ لِبَاسًا۔ جَعَلْنَا النَّهَارَ مَعَاشًا۔

And We have made your sleep for rest, And We have made the night as
a covering, And We have made the day for the activities of life.

The Holy Quran (78:10-12)

Classification of mental illness

Another key thing to remember is that mental illness consists of many different types of illnesses. Altogether, the several types of disorders, merge together to make the umbrella of mental illness. The different categories of disorder are created depending on the effect they have on the person; and from that there are categorised as a certain type of disorder.

Anxiety Disorders

Altogether, mental illness is classified into 14 different categories. The first of the 14 consists of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorder is the response to some objects or situations with terror or distress, in addition to physical indications of panic – such as sweating or a very hasty heartbeat. Anxiety disorders are diagnosed when one’s response to a situation is not appropriate, if the anxiety obstructs standard functioning or if the person cannot control their response. Some conditions in this group include: social and generalised anxiety disorder, alongside panic disorder and specific phobias.

Psychotic Disorders

To continue the topic of classification, the next type includes psychotic disorders. These disorders refer to distorted awareness and thinking. Two very common symptoms of these type of disorders include hallucinations – experiencing illusory images or sounds, such as hearing voices. The other common symptom being delusions. Delusions are incorrect immovable beliefs that the diseased individual accepts as correct, even with confirmation to the contrary. A well-known example is Schizophrenia. Next in line is made up of eating disorders.

This involves intense emotions, attitudes and behaviours regarding food and weight. To explain this further, an individual may be extremely affected by society’s stereotypical views concerning weight; thus, resulting in the individual eating a reduced or increased amount of food. Some common examples include: anorexia and bulimia nervosa, along with binge eating disorder.

Impulse Control & Addiction Disorders

Furthermore, the next category is impulse control and addiction disorders. People diagnosed with this do not have the capability to resist urges or impulses to perform such acts that may cause harm to themselves or others. Kleptomania (stealing) and Pyromania (starting fires) and uncontrollable gambling all come under impulse control disorders. Common substances of addictions include drugs and alcohol. Usually, people with these types of disorders involve themselves so greatly with the substances of their addiction that they start to disregard responsibilities and relationships.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are also a type of mental illness. Affected people have severe and fixed personality traits that cause distress to the individual and, often, cause difficulties work life or social relationships. As well as this, one’s patterns of thinking and actions critically contrast the expectations of society and their inflexibility greatly interferes with the person’s regular functioning. Antisocial, paranoid and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are all examples of personality disorders.

OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, better known as OCD, is another type. OCD is one of the more famous categories. Individuals with OCD are weighed down by continuous thoughts or worries, causing them to execute certain routines. The thoughts producing disturbance are known as obsessions and the routines are referred to as compulsions. An example of this is a person with an unreasonable idea of perfectness, who constantly rearranges certain objects.

PTSD

Mental illnesses caused by a traumatic or petrifying occasion – such as sexual or physical assault, unexpected death, or a natural disaster come under the category of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Individuals with this condition usually witness long-term and terrifying thoughts and memories of the occasion – this tends to be the foundation for the affected person to become emotionally numb.

Stress Response Syndromes

Staying on the subject of classification, the next group goes by the name of Stress Response Syndromes – Adjustment Disorders being its formal name. In response to a traumatic event or circumstance, an individual develops behavioural or emotional symptoms. Due to this, stress response disorders occur. The stressors may be natural disasters, disasters or personal problems. A problem with substance abuse can also be a stressor. Adjustment disorders tend to begin inside the period of three months of the event and come to an end within six months after the stressor is eliminated.

Dissociative Disorders

The next category classifies people who suffer extreme troubles or changes in memory, consciousness, identity and overall mindfulness of themselves and their surroundings. These disorders are known as dissociative disorders. Overwhelming stress – such as traumatic events that the individual may be a witness to, is linked to dissociative disorders. Dissociative identity disorder – formerly called multiple personality disorder – or more commonly known as split personality, alongside depersonalisation disorder are examples that are regarded as dissociative disorders.

Factitious Disorders

Factitious disorders are also considered as a type of mental illness. This is where an individual intentionally creates physical and/or emotional symptoms, in order to place themselves in a role of a patient or one who needs help.

Sexual Gender Disorders

An unfamiliar category to most, sexual and gender disorders, impacts sexual desire and behaviour. Sexual dysfunction and paraphilia are examples that included in this group of disorders.

Somatic Symptom Disorders

Moreover, another category is referred to as somatic symptom disorders (also known as psychosomatic disorder). One with a type of this disorder experiences physical symptoms of a disease or of just pain with an excessive level of stress, whether a doctor can find a medical cause is unrelated. Like OCD, Tic disorders are amongst the more known categories. Affected individuals make sounds or display unnecessary body movements that are recurrent, speedy, impulsive and occasionally uncontrollable. Unintentional sounds that are made are known as vocal tics. Tourette’s syndrome is the most famous example in this category.

Mood Disorders

The last category, and the one which everyone is ever mindful of, is known as mood disorders. Also called affective disorders, consist of tenacious feelings of sadness or periods of feeling overly cheerful, or even variations from extreme happiness to extreme sadness – known as bipolar disorder. Other than bipolar, other common disorders include depression and cyclothymic disorder.

Other diseases, such as many sleep-related problems or dementia are also classified as under the vast umbrella of mental illness- as they involve the brain.

Depression

To go back to the category of mood disorders, I will now further discuss the mental illness known as depression. 1 in 6 people in the UK and 3.3% of 16 and over, in a week, in the UK are estimated to be affected by depression. Feeling melancholy or sad is very commonly misrepresented and it is characterised as depression. Everyone feels unhappy at different times due to a particular cause, but does this mean they have depression? As soon as one is disheartened they immediately resort to the common expression “I feel depressed”. A depreciated expression like this possesses a significantly higher meaning, however most are ignorant of it. Clinical depression is much more than just feeling unhappy. Depression is a cause for experiencing intense emotions of negativity, anxiety, hopelessness and helplessness- these feelings last for a longer period in comparison to normal sorrow. In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits; and not being powerful enough to disturb your normal life but definitely making everything harder to do and seem less meaningful. However, it shouldn’t be taken lightly on the basis of this, as at its most severe, depression can be life-threatening and lead to self-harm. This is because depression has the power to make you feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live. Alongside self-harm, other severe cases can also lead to hallucinations and delusions (which are typically psychotic disorders symptoms).

To continue, if one is given a diagnosis of depression, it may be expressed to them whether they have mild, moderate or severe depression. This scale describes the grade of impact the individual’s symptoms are having on them currently and expresses the prospective treatment they will be offered. The depressed individual may move between different mild, moderate and severe depression during one episode or across different episodes.

Moreover, there are also specific types of depression. The first one goes by the name of Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is the depression that often (but not always) occurs in the winter. Dysthymia is also a type of depression. Dysthymia is continuous mild depression that lasts for two or more years. It is also referred to as persistent depressive disorder or chronic depression. The third type is prenatal depression; this type occurs during pregnancy, and it is sometimes also known as antenatal depression. The last type is known as postnatal depression (PND); this occurs in the weeks and months after one becomes a parent. PND is often diagnosed in women but it can also affect men.

To go deeper into the topic of depression, I will proceed by stating some of its causes. One major cause is an experience of a life-changing event such as bereavement, family problems or childhood happenings. Some chronic illnesses such as cancer or heart diseases and the medication used to treat them can cause side effects and their consequent depression. Moreover, according to NHS, depression is one of five mental disorders (alongside autism, ADHD, bipolar and schizophrenia) which are genetically linked. Due to an individual’s genetic makeup, they can be more susceptible to depression than others. It is also found that women are more likely to be depressed than men due to their hormonal changes. Other than these reasons, a poor lifestyle can also consequently result in depression. One’s lifestyle plays a key part in vulnerability to depression; lifestyle can be split into many sections- alcohol and drugs and sleep, diet and exercise. To start with, the consumption or use of alcohol and drugs is a crucial factor. Although one might initially use them to make themselves feel better or to distract themselves, they can cause one to feel worse overall. The next part is sleep, diet and exercise together – as mentioned before. A poor diet, lack of sleep and exercise can affect your mood and make difficult situations in life harder to deal with. Although a poor diet, or not getting enough sleep or exercise, cannot directly cause depression; however, it can make you more susceptible to developing it.

To further discuss the theme of depression, I will present some of its symptoms. These can be split into two categories, behavioural and emotional.

Additionally, loss of pleasure in life, lack of self-esteem and suicidal thoughts, as well as emotional symptoms, are very dangerous to the individual experiencing these signs.

To conclude, depression is hard to live but there are some treatments available which may help to get rid of it. An effective way to treat depression is through therapy. There are many types of therapies to utilise such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), group-based CBT and many more. The one used depends on the affected individual’s preference. To help one select their preferred method, the individual can talk to their doctor or a professional who can talk them through the options available in the person’s area. One individual who previously fell weak to depression exclaims that CBT “in the end saved” them and another expresses the fact that talking treatment “helps [them] to see things more rationally” and allows them to make “connections between reality” and what’s inside their head. Another treatment for depression is medication. If diagnosed with depression, one may be offered antidepressants – either on its own or in combination with talking treatment. Due to different people finding different antidepressants helpful, there are many types available – such as SSRI or MAOI. The affected person may need to first experiment with various types before discovering the one that works for them. Other options that the depressed individual can try, alongside or instead of medication and talking treatments, include: physical activity programmes or watchful waiting (being aware of one’s mood and seeing their mood changes over a certain period).

Mental Illness’ relation to mental capacity

Moreover, mental health problems can also impact one’s mental capacity. How? Why? These queries will soon be as clear as glass, but before I can spell out the concerns in the dispute or at issue- regarding this subtopic, I must first explain what is meant by mental capacity. Mental capacity is an individual’s ability to make their own decisions. If one has the capability to make a decision, one will know how to:

• Understand all the information needed to make that certain decision

• Apply or think about that information

• Remember that information and be able to converse their decision to another.

From this, it is clear that mental capacity is an important element in an individual’s life. In fact, it is deemed so prominent that there is an act created for it. This act is known as the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA); this act was specifically formed for the protection of individuals who lack mental capacity. One is covered by this act if they are 16 or older, and a resident of England or Wales. Moreover, the MCA is used to perform the following tasks:

• Helping the individual to make decisions for them. If the individual does not have a friend, family member or carer who can support them with decision-making, then an independent mental capacity advocate is allocated to the person.

• Giving one the option to make decisions regarding their future. For instance, one’s care perfectness or money management.

• Allocate or approve which certain individuals can make decisions for the person. All decisions made must be in the individual’s best interest.

The construction of MCA is based on 5 key principles. The 5 principles are given below.

I. Unless proven that the individual lacks capacity, they must be treated as if they have it.

II. One must be supported to make their decisions before a medical professional decides that they do not have the capacity. So, for instance, a way of support can be giving the individual information in different ways and using various approaches to explain it to them. If one has other symptoms which are causing one to lack capacity, then the medical team should first treat those and then proceed to assess the individual’s capacity again.

III. If one does not lack capacity, then they have the right to make decisions, which some may seem as unwise.

IV. If an individual has no capacity, anything performed for them must be in their best interests.

V. Whoever is making decisions, for the individual who lacks capacity, must favour the option which is the least restrictive. Meaning, the decision maker must always try to look for a route with a less significant effect on the individual’s basic rights. Although the mental capacity act does not restrain an individual, appropriate measures may be taken for a person’s security and benefit. MCA will only restrict an individual to stop them from causing harm to themselves. The extent of restraint used alongside the time it is used for is required to be suitable to the level of risk one exposes themselves to. By restrained it is meant that someone is:

• Using or threatening to use force, to make one perform tasks against their will,

• Restricting the person from leaving a place, whether it’s amongst their wishes or not. For instance, not permitting one to leave the hospital.

In some cases, when MCA begins to restrain an individual, it becomes very similar to DOLs (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards). ‘Deprivation of liberty’ in this occasion means the loss of freedom.

Another key factor to be remembered is that the neglect or harm to someone who lacks capacity, due to the MCA, is seen as a criminal offence; the mentioned actions can result in a fine or prison time.

Staying on the topic of mental capacity, what causes one to lack capacity? Is one born with it or do they develop it over years? The causes which are associated with a lack of capacity are:

• A stroke/brain injury

• A Mental health problem,

• Dementia

• A learning disability

• Alcohol or substance abuse

• Side effects – such as confusion and unconsciousness – of an illness or its treatment.

So, it is evident, that some causes of a lack of capacity, are inherited from birth and associated with genetics; however, on the contrary, some causes are separate to heredity.

Mental illness, as listed above, also affects mental capacity. When one is diagnosed with a mental illness they can start to lose their mental capacity, due to the illness itself or its symptoms. Also, the medication given to treat the mental illness can disorientate the individual taking them. For examples, some side effects of antidepressants – alongside obvious side effects such as weight gain – can worsen the illness. One of these side effects is confusion – also a cause for lacking capacity. The confusion created in an individual can, consequently, make them feel agitated in a way that places the person at risk to themselves or to others. And, therefore, the person may be classed as one who lacks capacity.

In addition, our beloved Khalifa abaabbreviation for "May Allah be his helper", expressed in his Friday sermon (on the 29th of May 2009) that “mental capacity varies from person to person, depending upon one’s natural ability to childhood factors, environment etc.” This refers to factors such as mental health problems or other illnesses. Furthermore, another matter that is in dispute and heavily discussed is “who’s to blame?” This concern is split depending on one’s religious beliefs. For an atheist, according to logic, there is no problem that’s needs resolving, no question that needs answering. They all owe their existence to only chance and no actual creator. Every person who witnesses misery, unhappiness or any type of suffering has only chance to blame. Being mentally ill or being born disabled is no flaw and only chance. Therefore, we must take on life and everything that relates to it as a meaningless accident. But does this belief truly add up? Or is one who believes this blind?

On the contrary, those who believe in God and believe him to be the creator, should have no problem either. They should be able to see enough direction and purpose in creation, to totally bow to the plan. So, either way, one must learn to live with diseases or problems.

As the belief of chance will ultimately come to a dead end, I will go deeper into the wisdom of God’s plan. So why has God created mental health problems? Why does he make people suffer? Well the answer, to these questions is quite simple. Suffering is important and very much needed. It is not an independent body; in fact, it is only a necessary counterpart of comfort and relief. So, the lack of pleasure is referred to as suffering, which like – Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad rhabbreviation for "May Allah have mercy on him/her/them" states – “is like its shadow, just as darkness is the shadow cast by the absence of light”. Therefore, the creation of suffering is not up for objection, as it is not an independent entity with no meaning and role in the system of God. For instance, if the taste of suffering or the awareness of what it means were removed from one’s life, the valued feeling of relief would also disappear. One who has never encountered pain would have no value for happiness. The purpose of life would be lost, and the well-planned steps of evolution would stop in their tracks. Like how evil, in Islam, is defined as a shadow created by the lack of light, the same goes for suffering. The awareness of ownership establishes joy. Any loss or threat of loss is the foundation of pain. If one is removed, the other will automatically disappear. Moreover, one can imagine a source of light, but no one can imagine an object which creates darkness.

For those who still don’t see the wisdom behind the plan of creation, I will present a hypothetical scheme -which was created by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad rhabbreviation for "May Allah have mercy on him/her/them". In this scheme of creation, there will be no mental illnesses or disabilities; all living things will be equally provided with an equal amount of happiness and no suffering whatsoever. Ultimate equality would be reached where everyone is levelled on the same platform. So, at what stage of life will this scheme be implemented? That’s the problem. If one tries to apply this to the everlasting chain of evolution, they are destined to face undefeatable problems. This new set of rules must be introduced at the start of creation. The plan will fit in perfectly, with no problems, and no difficulties. Everyone would be completely free from suffering. It is the perfect plan. Or is it? An equal distribution of joy and a total removal of suffering would completely disregard the urge for evolution. No evolution means no struggle for existence, no natural selection, and no survival of the fittest. Everything would possess all the required needs. This means, not even one progressive step would be taken by the most basic forms of life. This perfectly revised plan would consequently cause life to remain stationary. Therefore, think again, is this hypothetical scenario really the perfect plan?

Now that suffering has been clarified as necessary, the question of “who is chosen?” remains unanswered. Why this specific person, 1 or 2? Why not someone different, for example, 3 or 4? Evidently, the same question will repeat forever. Therefore, only one question would be practical: Why anyone at all? The only option left would be to either create everyone just as healthy or just as unhealthy as each other. From this, one can realise that an individual’s health itself is of no value. Most individuals will always be conscious of the inequality of health and appearance; it will continue to exasperate the individuals and will agonise some at concluding themselves to be at a disadvantage.

Furthermore, some believe that any type of defect is a form of punishment. However, this is not the case; it needs to be made clear that not all forms of suffering can be categorised as punishment, nor all joy as a reward. Some defects are merely an inescapable by-product of the well-thought-out plan of creation, but, at the same time, it plays a very prominent role in the overall progression of society. So, it is wrong to say that every healthy person is given good health as a reward for an act of goodness of their parents. The same goes for an unhealthy person; the reason for their defects is not a punishment for an unknown crime of a relative. It is merely the system and the rules of variety and diversity; wherever there is variety and diversity, proportional suffering – such as mental health problems – and joy are inevitably produced.

In the words of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad rhabbreviation for "May Allah have mercy on him/her/them", “An odd thorn jutting out here and there from a most artistically arranged, colourful and fragrant bouquet of flowers will not provide sufficient cause for the rejection of the bouquet”.

Moving on, another concern at issue refers to the difficulties in obeying God’s commandments. How can an individual with mental health problems fulfil God’s instructions? Why does God burden his own creation? The answer to these questions is simply stated in the Holy Qur’an:

لا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ

“Allah burdens not any soul beyond its capacity. It shall have the reward it earns, and it shall get the punishment it incurs.“

The Holy Quran (2:287)

From this, it is evident that God has not sent down his commandments to place humans in a difficult position. The commandments of God are well within human capacities – God is too holy and wise to have put his creation in difficulty. People of all sections of life have put the commandments into practice. It is therefore the duty of each and every person to put them into practice in accordance with their capacity. One who decides not to obey God’s orders determines their own limits and is thus disobedient to God. However, denial of the commandments of God at a young age or due to mental disabilities exempts the individual from responsibility. All instructions included in the Holy Qur’an are practicable and none is a burden. So, it is clear that God does not burden his people and those with mental illnesses can still obey God.

Those who experience difficulties – such as depression- are not at a disadvantage. In Islam, death is believed to only act as a gateway to life after death; this second life will guide those who were affected by limitations into an era of unlimited return. If one could only imagine the rewards waiting for them, they would happily accept the defects as a blessing in disguise.

An individual with a mental health problem should simply accept the blessing. They should learn to be like worms; they all seem to perfectly adjust to their environment and be completely happy with the abilities they are given.

To a certain degree, everyone is at a disadvantage; those who are healthy classify the condition of a mentally ill person as intense suffering, but those who are deprived of more than the mentally ill individual, may look up to them in envy.

Ways to help:

Although mental health problems are hard to remove, some even being impossible, there are ways which can decrease the level of suffering. Some of these include:

• The care of one’s physical health,

• Expression of feelings to someone (e.g. therapist or friend)

• Seeking help from a professional.

From a religious perspective, some ways to help include:

• Reading the books of the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" which can endow mankind with mental ease.

• Being a part of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

• Honey; not only can this ease one’s problems, according to the hadith and Qur’an, it can also cure all mental illnesses.

• Listening to the recitation of the Qur’an for 3 minutes every day (according to research this can improve one’s mental health).

Other than these examples, another way to help mental health is by keeping a true connection with God. One way to build a relationship with God is through prayer; since ancient times, prayer has been continuously used for healing individuals. The Holy Qur’an states:

یا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ

“O ye who believe! Seek help with patience and Prayer.”

The Holy Quran (2:154)

From this verse, it is clear that the only way to achieve something is through dua and prayer. Similarly, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad abaabbreviation for "May Allah be his helper" states that “God repeatedly informed him [the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him"] through revelations that whatever will be accomplished will be through dua. Moreover, the Promised Messiah asabbreviation for "Peace be upon him" declares that when one prays “one’s heart is overawed by the majesty and omnipotence of God”. This helps them overcome all the apprehensions which had been the source of distress in the past. From this, it is clear that prayer can help one’s mental health as it allows them to be exempt from certain negative emotions which can cause an increase in their susceptibility to mental health problems.

As expressed before, mental health plays a key role in every individual’s life. One should, with great effort, attempt to take care of their mental health as, if disregarded it can ruin one’s life in a blink of an eye. Therefore, every individual should do all they can to maintain good mental health. On the other hand, if one recognises symptoms of poor mental health they should immediately seek help. One should not suffer in silence due to embarrassment; poor mental health is not humiliating. Remember, there is no health without mental health.

Disclaimer

This article was originally published in the Annual Printed Edition of Majallatul Jamia

Suhaib Rana

Suhaib Rana

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