As the world faces a crisis together, people have never been so lonely.
The new standard includes grocery store sanitation, face masks, distance from loved ones and the constant fear of death from coronavirus and toilet paper shortages.
The American Psychological Association has found that stress weakens the immune system, making the body more susceptible to viruses. This means that now more than ever, mental health must be a priority.
To help communities cope, Muslim organizations have found ways to help people by going online.
The Family and Youth Institute, an organization focused on mental health, marriage counseling and parenting from an Islamic perspective, has created an online information toolkit, Wellbeing in the Age of Coronavirus.
The resource is free to the public and offers information on how to cope with the pandemic, including how to change mindset, deal with grief and understand anxiety. The FYI has also listed Islamic resources, such as supplications, prayers, and religious programs.
One of these pleas for depression and anxiety read: “Allah, I seek refuge with You from worry and sorrow, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and greed, from heavy debts. and against the domination of others.
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The toolkit also contains self-care programs, home workout plans, and calming wildlife and nature cameras. There are specific resources for teens and students, parents, caregivers, and people with pre-existing mental health issues.
Sameera Ahmed, founder of The FYI and clinical psychologist, suggested finding your own ways to cope and letting your family do the same.
“Recognize that everyone is under a lot of stress right now and that everyone has different coping styles,” Ahmed said.
Qabeelah Ittihaad is the Muslim chapter of the Al Maghrib Institute. As the pandemic worsened, they devised a system to reach people with emotional difficulties.
Qabeelah Ittihaad has created a contact form on his Facebook page to which anyone can add their name. A volunteer from Qabeelah Ittihaad then checks with everyone on the list and people are free to discuss whatever they want. Recordings are done by trained volunteers, not mental health professionals, but they provide an outlet for people during the pandemic.
Omar Malik, the head of Qabeelah Ittihaad, said: “We do not pretend to provide mental health therapy. Some people just want to talk to someone on a confidential basis. Our main goal is simply to listen to what they are feeling. . It can be very therapeutic. “
The Islamic Center of America, a mosque in Dearborn and the largest in the country, has converted its courses into online platforms open to the public. Their website contains the phone numbers of the two imams, or rulers, of the mosque who can be contacted for Islamic questions or moral support.
Ibrahim Kazerooni, an imam of ICA, encouraged people to reconnect with God, reminding people of God’s promise in the Quran: “Verily, with every trial is made easier.
To keep morale up, Kazerooni encouraged to stay active. He suggested exercising, reading, gardening, and engaging with the community. As for him, Kazerooni spends a few hours in his ICA office just to get out of the house and be productive.
Malik echoed a similar sentiment: “I just have a passion for the cause, so keeping busy makes me happy.”
Malik and Kazerooni also suggested volunteering as a way to stay productive and socially engaged. The ICA has a food drive that people can help with and Qabeelah Ittihaad has a volunteer base that anyone can join.
Regarding volunteering, Malik said: “A lot of people will always start by saying ‘I’m busy’. We try not to overwhelm people. Our policy is to just let people register. At a minimum, you will have a good social aspect. ”
While higher stress levels are normal at this time, if you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. For additional resources, the FYI offers a free suicide prevention toolkit.