Too many Muslim young people are suffering alone. We worked with around 2,870 Muslim young people last year. Of these, 27% presented with anxiety and 27% with low self-esteem. That’s around 774 Muslim young people engaged with us, who struggled with their mental health last year alone.

Miriam’s story:

Self-harming in silence

17 year old Miriam identifies as Muslim. She lives with her mum, dad and two older siblings. Miriam has always found school challenging. During her GCSE’s she was extremely nervous about taking her exams, and felt an overwhelming pressure to succeed. Miriam began feeling anxious a lot of the time. Miriam’s anxiety got worse as time went on. She felt like she had no one to talk to about how she was feeling. She spent months questioning whether her feelings were normal, and whether anyone would truly understand what she was going through. Miriam didn’t want to tell her family that she was struggling with her mental health. She describes her parents as having “traditional views” and feared that they might view her mental struggles as a spiritual failing. She felt a cultural expectation be ok, and thought stigma might follow her speaking out. Suffering alone, Miriam started having frequent panic attacks and by the time her GCSE’s approached, she was self-harming. Eventually Miriam’s mum noticed that something was wrong and asked Miriam what was going on. Miriam was surprised at how understanding her mum was.

Miriam’s dad was not quite as understanding. She has never spoken to him about her mental health, as he believes it’s just a phase that will pass with time.

Miriam’s mum organised an appointment for her to visit her local GP and was there referred to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). Although Miriam was connected to CAHMS, she had to wait three months for a meeting with a therapist. Three months of continued suffering before she was given the right support. The experiences of young Muslims like Miriam are far too common Young people like Miriam should not have to hit crisis point before they are offered support. We want young people to know that it’s ok to speak out, and that when they do, there will be people around to listen, understand and help. If Miriam knew how to access support earlier, she would not have waited 3 excruciating months for therapy. If she felt comfortable opening up to others when her anxiety started, she would not turned to self-harm.

There are hundreds of Muslim young people in London today who feel scared and unable to cope because they are struggling deeply with their mental health.

The Children’s Society recognise the need for better mental health support for these young people in schools and the community. We know from our research that Muslim young people would like mental health support which:

  • Focuses on the young person / puts the young person in charge
  • Works with parents & incorporates other adults (teachers, project workers, volunteers)
  • Works throughout schools
  • Is early interventions

The Parents of these young people would like:

  • Trained mental health experts in schools
  • Discussions of mental-health issues in lessons
  • Emotional and mental health support services integrated into existing services such as youth groups