Muslim Mental Health Matters: Supporting teens’ mental health

Photo credit: Maryam Ahmed and Maria Ahmad

AbdulAziz Syed (on left), licensed clinical social worker and therapist from the Khalil Center, presented at the Muslim Mental Health Matters event at the Madison Public Library. Participants were primarily parents who wanted to know how to support their children.

High school and college students face an epidemic of anxiety that the National Education Association called “the mental-health tsunami of their generation.” A 2019 Pew survey found that 70 percent of teens say anxiety and depression is a “major problem among their peers,” and that was before the pandemic.

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory in December highlighting the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis.

“Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression and thoughts of suicide,” Surgeon General Murthy stated in the advisory. “The COVID-19 pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating.”

Left unmanaged, it can lead to depression, other mental and physical disorders, substance abuse and even suicide, mental health professionals say. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 10 to 24, accordingly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What’s a parent to do?

“Step one is for us adults to take care of our own mental fitness,” mental health clinician AbdulAziz Syed said Sunday to 35 participants attending Muslim Mental Health Matters at the Madison Public Library. The program was sponsored by the Madison Public Library Foundation. Syed is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist from the Khalil Center, a psychological and spiritual community wellness center in Chicago dedicated to advancing the professional practice of psychology rooted in Islamic principles.

The program was organized by three Madison women who submitted a winning proposal to the Library Takeover Initiativewhich provides grant funding for Madison residents to host a program at the Madison Public Library. Dania Shoukfeh, a special education teacher; Maryam Ahmed, a master’s student in clinical mental health counseling; and Kelly Saran, a producer at PBS Wisconsin planned the program and invited Syed to be the keynote speaker.

Talking about Muslim mental health in Madison

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