- Taqwa Qattoum and Yasmeen Abunasrah
Mental Health in the Time of Covid
How much of a toll is COVID taking on our mental health? Let’s talk about it. Mental health is the physical and psychological state of an individual which has an effect on their internal and external interactions. Teenagers across the globe deal with anxiety, depression, and many other mental health challenges. These challenges have increased since the start of the pandemic. Isolation and a decrease in social interaction trigger teenagers dealing with personal struggles, school, and the effects of social media. While focusing on your mental health should be a priority, it is important to put the same effort in regard to your physical state. Sheikh Anwar Arafat, a youth director for MIC and philosophy/Islamic studies teacher at Pleasant View School, offers students advice in navigating this “new normal”: “Give yourself permission to not always be worrying about schoolwork or exams. Put a time cap on your schoolwork. With regards to approaching a mental issue, if you feel like you can't tackle your problem alone, definitely reach out to someone. I personally would not recommend going out and using social media as your voice.” To the effects of social media on teenagers, Sheikh Anwar advises students to avoid “doom scrolling.” This is when a person sits for hours and scrolls through social media platforms which consist of bad news resulting in the creation of a negative mindset. Additionally, studies have shown that spending as little as 20 minutes outdoors can help people cope with mental distress.
Giving ourselves a break, especially since we sit behind a screen for hours daily due to online schooling, is crucial to avoid the harmful effects of inactivity. We should all try and change our routines every once in a while to stray from having a repetitive lifestyle. Go for a walk around a park or your neighborhood. The simplest of things can change our entire day and mood, especially during times of self isolation. Even the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺPBUH recommends this. Sheikh Anwar says, “With a physical illness, the prophet ﷺ PBUH would apply both spiritual medicine and physical medicine. It was never one or the other. Similarly with mental health, we should apply both. A lot of the time we only turn to spiritual medicine, ignoring the physical medicine, and we have to realize that we actually have to apply both. We can’t just do one or the other.”