Maaria Mahmood

Written by

October 8, 2020


The Muslim Youth Helplinewhich provides pioneering faith and culturally sensitive services to Muslim youth in the UK, has seen a 313% rise in calls since March 2020.

Helpline officers have answered calls from many young people struggling with suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and religious guilt. Thanks to your donations towards the UK Coronavirus Appeal, Islamic Relief UK has been able to support Muslim Youth Helpline with funding of £30,000 to ensure that the work continues and all calls to the helpline are answered.

Muslim Youth Helpline has seen a 313% increase in calls into the helpline

On Monday, March 16th, Muslim Youth Helpline (MYH), like everyone else in the UK, had to change our operations plan overnight. We were told to operate the helpline from our homes. The call to work from home happened in parallel with a rise in calls. Due to Covid, our callers needed us more than ever, and we needed to make sure we continued to provide the helpline. Compared to last year,  MYH has seen a 313% increase in calls to the helpline.

2020 has changed things for all of us. Whether it’s our work, our priorities, or the lens in which we see the world and our place in it; a lot has changed, and the helpline is no different.

Within a few days, we noticed an increase in the number of calls we received from concerned young people.  Cancelled exams, Ramadan under lockdown, Covid outbreaks on university campuses, young carer responsibilities increasing, losing loved ones to Coronavirus, loss of job opportunities: these were just some of the concerns of young people.

All of these have had a huge impact on our young callers.

More young people discussing depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than ever before

In addition, to the rise in calls, we also noticed a change in the severity of calls. We were receiving more calls from young people discussing depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than ever before.

Our 2018 research ‘Muslim Youth: What’s the issue?’ asked respondents whether they had ever suffered from mental health issues:

  • 70% of female respondents and 46% of male respondents said they had suffered from anxiety
  • 57% of our female respondents and 40% of male respondents said they had suffered depression
  • 37% of female respondents and 22% of male respondents sai they had suffered suicidal thoughts

These are striking figures, and it’s essential we have support services available for people to get the help they need.

Good mental health is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle; it can have a positive effect on how you feel about yourself, how you engage in the relationships around you and your ability to carry out everyday tasks.

Breaking down stereotypes and stigma associated with mental health

According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems affect 1 in 10 children and young people. Unfortunately, 70% of children and young people who need support, don’t receive the appropriate interventions at an early age.

By talking about mental health and wellbeing, we are creating spaces so that those who need to seek help can, and so they can get the support they need. This helps breakdown stereotypes and any stigma associated with it.

Conversations around mental health also enable discussions on positive mental wellbeing, and what it means to lead healthy lives for our minds.

Since its launch, MYH has supported over 50,000 young Muslims. We provide a safe space in which young Muslims can find the help they need to overcome their social problems and have better access to opportunities that empower psychological and emotional wellbeing. Young people contact MYH daily on all kinds of issues including mental health, physical/sexual abuse, feelings of isolation and lack of belonging, self-harm and suicidal feelings, questions on identity and faith. Our non-judgmental and non-directional support provides a unique service within the Muslim community.

By responding in times of crisis, MYH believes that providing telephone, email and online support can strengthen the mental resilience of young people.

Our enquiries come from the most marginalised and vulnerable in society, who have nowhere else to turn, and would otherwise turn to traditional mainstream support, which may not understand the cultural and religious norms that Muslims live within.

For me, Muslim Youth Helpline is an organisation which helps support vulnerable young people in need, and empower them to make healthy decisions that aid their mental health and wellbeing. Finally, we can signpost them accordingly, so they continue on the journey to good mental health.

If there were ever a more critical time for MYH to exist, it would be now. The pandemic has impacted young people in education and employment, and their concerns are evident on the helpline.

On March 16th the Helpline Officers stepped up to the challenge, going above their call to ensure the helpline remained open from their homes. The MYH mission is as strong as ever. The helpline operates every day from 4pm to 10pm.

Call our Free Helpline on

0808 808 2008

Live chat

myh.org.uk/live-chat

Email

help@myh.org.uk

© Copyrights 2020 Islamic Relief Worldwide, Inc. All rights reserved. Registered Charity No. 328158

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