Our society is in the depth of a mental health crisis. Approximately 1 in 2 people in Australia will suffer from a mental health condition at some point in their lifetimes and the Muslim community is not immune to this statistic.

Until this day there are stereotypes and stigma associated with mental health conditions. This is often compounded in the Muslim community by additional stigma placed on both the sufferer and the provider of care.

The various barriers that contribute to the formation of these issues, include the lack of readily available information, financial hurdles and culturally inappropriate/insensitive information.

Gem & Zen is a well-being initiative formed by Psychologists Gemma Stephens and Zena Nikro. This initiative aims to provide a pro-active approach to mental health and psychological well-being.

We hope to develop an easily accessible free resource and central hub of information. This hub’s overall purpose is to empower people with accurate and reliable material and will cater to the general community. It will also provide an Islamic perspective of modern Psychology and be tailored towards specific issues uniquely faced by the Muslim community.

The Gem & Zen project will be based primarily online, utilising social media outlets so that we can be as far reaching as possible. Content will include but not be limited to short videos, written pieces (e.g. updates, blogs, and articles), webinars and an array of workshops on various topics. So, check out our social media platforms and watch this space for all the latest content.

Below is an excerpt from our most recent video, released during Ramadan;

We’re already in the last 10 nights of Ramadan, and many people are planning to stay up the entire night. Yet you’re barely able to get out of bed in morning. There are people soaring through the feeling of a spiritual high, yet you’re numb and haven’t felt anything in a while. Having Depression or other health conditions means you might be doing less than others in Ramadan. But it doesn’t make you any less of a Muslim! Taqwa comes in many different forms. Allah SWT is Al Shakoor, The Appreciative. So, if you’re trying your best, He will appreciate that. 

Our advice would be to never compare yourself to others. Your worth is not measured by your productivity. The most important thing is that you do the most that you can. Doing something small consistently over a long period of time is more impactful than overloading yourself with a large task because you’ll risk getting burnt out. It’s not the hours of rainfall that softens a hard rock, but rather the slow and constant drip of a tiny drop of water that can shape and mold the rock.  

Remember Allah SWT sees everything. He knows everything. He knows what struggles you are going through. So, turn to Him and keep pushing through, for He is surely with the one who perseveres.