At our helpline, people share their deepest struggles with us
We are proud to have served the Muslim community in the UK for 20 years. Throughout our history, we’ve accepted calls from all over Britain, from Muslims young and old, for a variety of reasons.
They speak to us at times when they may have no one else to speak to, or when they are worried about being judged by those around them. We operate as a confidential and safe helpline, and our Helpline Officers are trained to listen without judgment, be empathic, and provide resources that may help you.
We value all of our service users. These are some of their experiences on the helpline.
“I’m stressed about going back to school. I’m getting bullied and nobody understands me – my classmates ignore me, and my teachers complain about me to my parents. I’m not sure how to defend myself, and I don’t have anyone to talk to.”
“I feel trapped at home with family due to quarantine, and I keep getting frustrated at even small issues. I’m also frustrated due to my job falling through, which makes me feel stuck. I no longer have the mental health support I received at school and have no outlets to deal with my issues.”
“I got low exam results and now I can’t stop feeling guilty. I feel like I let everyone down, especially myself. My parents are making it worse, and are saying that I wasted their money on tutors when I still got bad grades. How am I going to re-sit my exams, when I’m feeling so anxious about failing?”
“I’m feeling depressed and anxious about school re-opening. I was happy during the lockdown, I wasn’t feeling anxious about leaving the house, and I could focus on my school work without comparing myself to others. I’m not sure where I can get support, my parents don’t understand my mental health struggles.”
“I’ve been dealing with anxiety but I don’t know how to deal with it during the lockdown. I can control my actions, and keep my hands and environment clean but I’m not sure the people I’m interacting with are doing the same.”
“I’m worried about returning to school. My teachers don’t take my mental health seriously, and I’m treated differently than everyone else. I’m scared about being lonely again, I’m scared everyone will bully me.”
“I’ve been struggling with my mental health. My parents don’t understand me, and while they don’t mean it, sometimes their words make me feel low. My anxiety makes me interpret their words as mean, and I’m unable to trust my own family. I’m not sure what I can do.”
Some subjects come up more than others on our helpline. These include:
Many of our service users came with issues surrounding anxiety. This included anxiety concerning school exams, jobs, low self-esteem, family issues, and therapy. Within these categories, the queries had both religious and non-religious connotations. The following two examples illustrate the two types of queries.
A client named Isra called because she could not access her mental health team until the following Monday, and did not know how to deal with her anxious feelings over the weekend. She mentioned that the way she is able to deal with her anxiety and negative thoughts is by remembering God, and said she felt happiest when she was remembering God and her religion.
Another service user spoke to us about how severe her anxiety is, and how it disrupts her normal functioning. She preferred coming up with practical solutions to help her stop over-thinking. One of these solutions was creating a pros and cons list.
Both clients accessed our helpline for similar reasons, but with different coping techniques. We remain non-judgmental, and do not provide religious advice, but are able to understand both contexts because of our cultural and religious sensitivity.
Depression is one of the top concerns across all age groups who access our helpline. The subjects may range from individuals calling us to tell us about their bad day, to individuals who have severe depression and require clinical help.
For example, one of our service users, Ahmed, has struggled with depression and the side-effects and feelings that come along with it. He has been hospitalised in the past to ensure his safety. While his doctors have good control over his clinical presentations, he accessed our helpline to speak about the intense loneliness he felt due to a perceived lack of support from his family. Ahmed came to MYH as a safe space to talk about his feelings, which we worked with in order to make him feel validated and heard.
Sonya accessed our helpline to complain about the lack of support she was receiving from her teachers at school regarding her mental health issues. This has made her feel isolated, and she feels she cannot trust those in positions of authority. This has also led her to have more negative feelings and thoughts, such as thinking about self-harming. However, her faith and trust in God has stopped her from hurting herself. Sony uses our helpline as a safe outlet to express her feelings.
Zakaria has attempted suicide in the past, and is now feeling unheard by his family. He is frustrated, as he feels like no one is taking his mental health seriously. Zakaria also feels stuck, he doesn’t know who he can speak with about his struggles. We ensured Zakaria was safe, and explored his feelings. We also provided emotional and practical support, along with signposting to ensure he received the professional help he needs.
Family issues have continued to be one of the top primary concerns at our helpline. These issues include difficulties with parents and immediate family, abusive families, and changing family dynamics.
For example, Aliyah accessed our helpline because she has been experiencing difficulties with her family ever since she reverted to Islam. Although her sister knows, she is worried about sharing this information with her parents, who have made Islamophobic remarks in the past. She is still financially dependent on her family and is worried about losing her family and home while she is studying at university. We worked with Aliyah to provide practical support and solutions, whilst also offering emotional support for the stress she was experiencing.
Many of our service users also reach out to speak about their everyday family struggles. Some complain about feeling trapped at home, while others need to speak about an argument they’ve had with their parents or siblings. Due to a shared cultural experience between our Helpline Officers and service users, they are quite comfortable sharing information without having to explain some of the finer details of their culture for us to understand.
Abuse, in its different forms, is a recurring concern. In fact, it is the top concern reported from those aged 12 and under. We have had issues of abuse surrounding trauma due to past sexual abuse, verbal, psychological, and physical/domestic abuse. For example, one of our young service users was experiencing emotional and verbal abuse from her mother, along with bullying at school. She felt like she didn’t fit in with the other girls in her year because of her looks, and her mother was constantly comparing her to her older siblings. She has recently moved and lost her friend support circle. She felt like she was losing her identity as she was trying to do everything to please her family, but nothing worked. This service user mentioned that she chose MYH over other helplines because MYH understands more about religion and culture, and felt more connected to our service as we can understand spiritual solutions.
Another client, Sarah, experienced physical abuse from her whole family. Her family isolated her and she couldn’t go out to see her friends. Sarah was thinking about moving out but was worried about defying her parents. We discussed Sarah’s options with her and provided her with contacts to practical and religious organisations that could help her with her decision, whilst also providing emotional support.