“Positive, Active, Clear and Energetic – a recipe for mental wellness”
The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) conducted a nationwide mental health study in 2010. This study revealed that one in 10 people in Singapore suffer from a mental disorder. The study also found that majority of the mental illnesses occurred by the age of 29 years and that the majority of the people with mental illness were not seeking help.
Why is this so?
“Every Ummah (people) has a fitnah (ordeal) and my Ummah’s fitnah is wealth” – Hadith reported by al-Tirmidzi.
In a society where too much emphasis is placed on the pursuit of material possessions, life is made very stressful. Many mental disorders are triggered by stress. Most people are too busy chasing the material things, there is no time to contemplate and reflect. Increasingly, we see mental illnesses manifesting in increasing numbers among all age groups, with age of onset occurring earlier.
Since the onset of internet, digitalization has obvious benefits such as ability to access information at one’s fingertips and convenience, but the potential harm it can cause such as cyberbullying and cyber-addiction has certainly contributed to rising numbers of people developing mental health issues, especially the younger generation.
The digital screen has caused people to interact on-line rather than face-to-face, and studies have shown that this contributes to more people becoming more socially isolated and developing depression.
Does it have to remain this way?
As Muslims, we always look to the Al-Qur’an and the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. for guidance on every aspect of our everyday lives, including remaining mentally well.
Firstly, one needs to remain positive
The true believer will seek to always remain positive and maintain an optimistic view of life.
In one hadith, it is stated that “Allah has not sent down a disease without sending a cure for it” – Hadith reported by al-Tirmidzi and al-Bukhari.
Based on this hadith, anyone with a mental disorder or a mental illness will be optimistic about his condition. With the support of his therapists and caregivers, he does not give up on finding a ‘cure’ for his illness.
A Mukmin will also be able to show endurance when he encounters any ordeal. He will not become too anxious or depressed, hence is able to cope with stressful situations.
“How amazing is the affairs of a Mukmin! Everything turns out well for him: and that applies only to a Mukmin. If happiness befalls him, he gives thanks (to Allah) and it turns out well for him, and if an ordeal befalls him, he shows endurance and it turns out well for him.” – Hadith narrated by Muslim.
Part of remaining positive is also removing the negatives from our inner selves such as pride, envy and vengefulness. Pride stops a person from listening to others and from seeking help; envy breeds resentment; vengefulness and the inability to forgive others prevent a person from coming to terms with past trauma and hinder the recovery process.
Secondly, one needs to be active in seeking a cure and in remaining well
“No one has been given a better and more ample gift than endurance” – Hadith reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Allah s.w.t will test each and every one of us with various sufferings and adversities, an example of which can be a chronic lifelong illness such as a mental illness. Instead of falling into despair when faced with such tests of endurance, the afflicted, with the strong support of their caregivers should actively seek knowledge from the correct sources and appropriately qualified professionals, in order to get cured or at least remain functional despite having a mental illness. Be it from the help of a psychiatrist, a counselor or a religious teacher, these challenges can be successfully resolved with Allah’s permission.
With mental health challenges however, the approach taken has to be holistic due to the complexity of the problem. By holistic one means that the all factors, be it biological, psychological or social, has to be taken into account when looking for solutions.
Thirdly, one needs to be clear of the goal in life as a true Muslim in order to remain well
We Muslims are very fortunate indeed because in the broadest sense, our two kailmah shahadahs set clear twin goals in life, i.e. that none is deserving of our worship except Allah and that Muhammad s.a.w. is the messenger of Allah.
When one declares the first shahadah, automatically he removes the unnecessary shackles that are a major cause of stress in modern-day living – such as the relentless pursuit of material wealth, position and entertainment. A true believer worships only Allah and frees himself from worshipping anything else.
When one declares the second shahadah, a Muslim can draw upon the guidance from our beloved prophet to guide his day-to-day living. The prophet’s way becomes his way of life. The Muslim then draws upon the teaching of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the prophet as guides to successful living. One learns the ‘best way to live’!
In the words of another hadith – “Facilitate (things) and do not make (them) difficult, make (people) tranquil and do not scare (them)” – Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Islam brings tranquility in the lives of the faithful. It is not a difficult religion to follow.
Fourthly, one needs to be energetic to achieve mental well-being
“A strong Mukmin is better and dearer to Allah than a weak Mukmin and in both of them, there is good.” – Reported by Muslim
The constant reminders from both the al-Quran and the Sunnah to strive (jihad) in the path of Allah remind one that without suitable effort and energy, one will find it difficult to achieve good mental health. Hence, just like physical and financial health, time and energy need to be invested to achieve mental well-being. One does this by seeking appropriate knowledge and guidance from reliable sources.
Simply by performing the twin pillars of prayers and fasting, for example, one achieves the discipline required to remain focused and energetic.
In Club HEAL, we incorporate these four healthy attitudes of being positive, active, clear and energetic to help participants who have mental health issues to overcome their disabilities such that they can successfully reintegrate back into the community.
We also aim to help persons with mental health issues to not only cope with life’s challenges but also to give them hope that their problems are not insurmountable – that they can be empowered to reach their full potential, that they need to accept their challenges with faith and perseverance and that they are not alone and are deserving of love from fellow humans –all of which are achievable In sya Allah!
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Club HEAL (Hope, Empowerment, Acceptance & Love) aims to assist and empower persons with mental health issues to regain confidence in themselves and others in their journey towards community reintegration.