June 26, 2019 3 min read

Muslim men and woman who try to practice their faith to the best of their ability are well aware that praying 5 times a day, reading Qur’an, and fulfilling their basic duties to God isn’t always enough to help ease anxiety, obsessive thoughts, and/or bouts of depression.

There is so much stigma attached to mental health illness — which further prevents Muslims from going to licensed mental health professionals, fearing judgment about their faith, recurring thoughts, and their outlook on God + relationship with Him.

 

 

I was recently able to speak with Janey Imaani Chowdhury, ACC, DWCF — certified Life Coach and Daring Way (Brene Brown) Facilitator, who shared her future goals in deconstructing the stigmas attached to mental health illness, especially within Muslim communities.

  1. If an individual is struggling with their faith and doubting Islam + their doubt is coupled with a mental health illness — what kind of advice or help do you provide for them?
  • Although this is a common struggle amongst many Muslims, this is a very difficult question to answer because when I work with an individual, I have to specifically understand what they are going through. Each individual is unique, and their needs must be addressed  to specifically help them. But I would begin by making them comfortable and helping them understand that our unfortunate circumstances are a window into our growth and only when we give ourselves permission to understand our doubt and pain will we begin to grow.
  • Our mental health illnesses and our doubts about our faith are often the prerequisite into our spiritual awakening and personal development.

    1. How do you hope the world will view Mental Health Illness in the future, and what do you plan on doing to fulfill your role in de-stigmatizing it?
  • My hope for the Muslim community is that they will combine psychology with Islam. Our relationship with God is highly affected by our relationship with ourselves. God encourages us to be kind, wise, strong but all of that is affected by our emotions and our traumas. If we don't understand our traumas, we lose our ability to be close to God.
  • I work to de-stigmatize Mental Health through my work. I normalize psychology through 4 minute YouTube videos where I explain everyday psychological concepts. Our community is getting better at embracing extreme psychological issues like suicide and trauma, but we forget about our day to day mental health which affect our thoughts and behaviors - and my videos help people navigate through those everyday issues.

    1. What sparked your interest in the field of psychology and life coaching? How did your mom's background as a social worker encourage/discourage you?
  • When I was younger, I realized that I was struggling with some issues, which initially sparked my interest in psychology. As I started working on myself, I realized that everyone around me was struggling with similar issues - and that I could have a positive impact by applying what I was learning in school. 

  • With my mother, I grew up seeing her give everything she had to her community, working tirelessly without boundaries. I don't think I was consciously inspired by her, but once I grew into myself, I could see that my work was very similar to hers, and that I became her without even realizing it. I am able to move her work forward, with a deeper understanding of psychology and how to engage with my community in a healthy way. I also realized our relationship with our parents is so deep, and that we impact our kids in ways that we could never imagine or predict.

     

    Imaani started her YouTube channel a few years ago and it was already received over half a million views, along with so much positive feedback filled with hope. She creates short videos (under 5 minutes) to touch on topics like renegotiating gender roles, learning how to take risks, and even heavier ones, like how to recover from infidelity.

    To view more of Imaani’s work, visit her website athttps://janeyimaani.com or her YouTube channel athttps://m.youtube.com/user/TheImaanifc


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