Affecting 40 million adults in the United States, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.. This makes up 18% of the country's population. (National Institute of Mental Health). Amongst anxiety, an incline in depression and social isolation or discomfort has also been apparent in recent years, specifically with young adults. To begin the conversation on mental health and how this topic is positioned in our communities and personal lives, we collaborated with Sister Berak Hussain to bring you a Q&A format video-interview to discuss her profession in the field and mental health issues in our current generation. We will be releasing several video clips throughout the next few days, covering each question we came up with for this interview to shine light on a topic still not openly discussed.

Some background info- Berak Hussain is a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) at a local university in Ottawa, Canada where she has been counseling students for nine years now, and a mental health advocate. She has a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Educational Counseling from the University of Ottawa. At the Health and Counseling Services, she helps students from all sorts of backgrounds through issues ranging from anxiety, depression, stress, culture shock, identity challenges, suicide, relationship issues and more. Berak has participated in many counseling and community-related events, presenting the topic of Islamic Counseling to local practitioners over the years in the hopes of sharing common ideas on how to best support faith-based clients. Berak believes that counseling is her calling and that her desire to help people is not through the cell from the medical point of view, but rather through the soul. With the help of university students, Berak has spearheaded the successful Serenity Islamic Mental Health Awareness initiative with monthly psychoeducational presentations that lead up to the 3-day conference in May 2016. Canadian media named this conference "Canada's first Muslim Mental Health Conference." International media such as Karbala TV also took notice of the Serenity Conference and noted the success of such a groundbreaking attempt on breaking the silence on mental health in the Muslim community: here. Berak also presented the Five W's of Accessing Mental Health Resources at the Canadian Muslim Mental Health Conference in Toronto with the Canadian Muslim Medical Association. She has also created a Facebook/Instagram forum called "The Muslim Counsellor" to discuss and explore these issues, soon to be broadcasting a video series exploring relevant issues for Muslims living in the West through the lens of Mental Health. Berak recently came back from a whirlwind U.K.- Australia tour holding seminars, workshops and live TV interviews (Project Zainab & Ahlul Bayt TV) discussing and exploring Muslim mental health in the Muslim communities abroad. She will next be presenting at the annual Canadian Association of College and University Student Services Conference where she was selected from delegates across Canada to present on the topic of Developing Islamic Counseling Theories and Clinical Practice in a University Setting. Afterwards, she will be heading presentations on the topic of Muslim mental health in other Canadian and American cities. We hope you can share this content and awareness to help bring light to these topics.

It's not uncommon to face challenges in life, whatever it is that you find stressing you. Islam has provided many spiritual lessons and guides through hardship. In the Quran, you'll see that all of the Prophets (peace be upon them) went through very difficult trials. As you know, Ahlul Bayt (as) has faced these major hardships as well. Remember that we are always being tested in this life through these trials and tribulations. Any suffering will make you stronger and a better person. At the end, it will all make sense. Trust in Allah.

Here are some verses and quotes below to relieve you: 

 "Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They (Prophets) were afflicted with severe poverty, ailments and were shaken." (Qur'an 2:214) 

“Allah does not want difficulty for you, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His favor upon you, that you may be grateful.” (end of Quranic verse 5:6)

Our Prophet (pbuh) said: "Verily, if Allah loves a people, He makes them go through trials. Whoever is satisfied, for him is contentment, and whoever is angry upon him is wrath." [Tirmidhi]

 The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever Allah wishes good for, He inflicts him (with hardship).” [Bukhari]

Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said to 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas (radiyallahu 'anhu): "..Be mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. Get to know Allah in prosperity and He will know you in adversity... And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship." [Tirmidhi]

“Bare with patience whatever befalls you….” (Qur’an 31:17)

 “O’ you who believe! Seek help in patience and the Prayer.” (Qur’an 2:153)

“Verily, with hardship there is relief” (Qur’an 94:6)

"With me is my Lord, He will guide me.” (Qur’an 26:62)

“If you are grateful, I shall certainly give you increase” (Qu'ran 14:7) 

"Allah does not place a burden on a soul greater than it can bear" (Al-Baqara, 2286).
“Call on Me, I will respond to you.” (Qu'ran 40:60)

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Look at those who are less fortunate than yourselves, not at those who are better off than yourselves, so that you will not be little the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon you” (Al-Mundhiri, 2000, n.d., book 68, chapter 13, p. 1115).

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “No person suffers any anxiety or grief, and says this supplication but Allah will take away his sorrow and grief, and give him in their stead joy 

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has said: “Your prayers are like a flowing river at your doorstep you wash yourself in it five times a day.”