Monday, June 01, 2020

COVID-19 impact ‘will take years to process’: Mental health challenges surge for British Muslims

COVID-19 lockdown restrictions start easing in England from today, with primary schools re-opening and gatherings of up to six people allowed. Throughout the pandemic, the UK, with the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths in Europe, has seen a rise in calls from young British Muslims seeking mental help support during Ramadan.

(Image courtesy of MYH)

Salaam Gateway: The Muslim Youth Helpline has had a busy few months. Just before the UK implemented COVID-19 related restrictions in March, there was a spike in calls from young people wanting to talk, particularly about anxiety. As the lockdown took hold, calls increased by 313% and the small team of volunteers at MYH struggled to handle them.

“It has been relentless. Our statistics for April show we dealt with 700 inquiries – that is the most we’ve had in 19 years,” MYH’s director, Zohra Khaku, told Salaam Gateway.

Several weeks into the pandemic, anxiety is still one of the biggest issues the helpline deals with. “If you had anxiety disorder before, it is worse, if you didn’t, now maybe you do,” she said.

As the lockdown continued and Ramadan started, more serious cases started to emerge. In early May, Khaku tweeted: “Last night about half of our calls at Muslim Youth Helpline were about suicidal feelings.”

But it was not just that night, she said.

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