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On Saturday 16th July 2022, a virtual workshop was organized for members of Lajna Imaillah, Ghana by Shoba Sihat- e- Jismani. The theme for the workshop was ‘Mental Wellbeing.’ The programme was chaired by Sadr Lajna Mulk, Hajia Anisa Nasirudeen Iddrisu and the speakers were Madam Nusrat Yaa Asantewaa Gyasi, Naib Secretary I Shoba Sihat-e-Jismani and Dr. Jameelah Khalid, Naib Secretary II, Shoba Sihat-e-Jismani.

In her opening address and prayer, Sadr Mulk read from Holy Quran chapter 17 verses 79-84. She prayed that the day remains a memorable one and also that all members may continue to adhere to instructions of our beloved Huzur(aba). She added that we as Muslims have an excellent guidance from Allah and so we must safeguard that, as well as our wellbeing. She then prayed that Allah continue to bring us unto His rightly guided path.

Next was a presentation on ‘Mental Wellbeing’ done by Madam Nusrat Asantewaa Gyasi. Madam Nusrat stated that according to W.H.O. the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25 % increase in depression and anxiety and the worst affected were children and women, hence it was important as women to learn ways through which our mental health can be protected in these turbulent times. Madan Nusrat stated that according to W.H.O. mental health is a state of wellbeing where one is able to do these 3 things: i. realize his or her own abilities, ii. being able to work productively and make contribution to his or her community, iii. Cope with the normal stresses of life. Madam Nusrat Gyasi also stated that it is estimated that 800,000 people commit suicide each year, again 1 in 4 people will suffer mental illness at some point in their lives, and 20% of children and adolescents are currently living with mental illness.

She added that some of the causes of mental illness included: i. Traumatic life experiences like rape, death of a loved one, spousal and child abuse, ii. Wars and natural disasters, iii. Substance abuse like weed, cocaine, and tramadol, iv. Stress from toxic relationships, lack of employment, ill-health and social pressure. Madam Nusrat again stated in her presentation that because the brain is plastic our mental health also changes all the time, for this reason one can always change their negative experiences in life from that which can cause disease to a positive one that can support and promote healing. She urged all members to always keep a positive mind-set and also rely on Allah and the Holy Qur’an for lifting up their spirit and also heal their mind any time they are at their lowest ebb.

She stated some of the ways of maintaining a good mental wellbeing as: i. Always believing in Allah and knowing that He will never overburden us as promised in the Holy Qur’an, ii. Knowing who you are and your limit at which you can function, iii. Forming strong bonds with our community by sharing ideas and our problems with trusted friends and getting help when needed, iv. Practicing self-care by making time for ourselves to relax when stressed out, v. watching what we eat, when we eat and how we eat since they all affect our mental health, vi. Including simple exercise like walking in our daily routine.

Next was a presentation on stress was delivered by Dr. Jamilah Khalid. In her presentation, she defined stress as encountering a situation and not having the resources to deal with it. Dr. Khalid stated that ideally stress during a short period of time is helpful for the body but when it persist for a long time, then it becomes harmful to the body and this begins to hurt all other areas of the body. She stated that some of the sources of stress include; i. Having a new job and a new baby, ii. Social media, iii. Loss of a loved one, iv. Terminal illness, v. Poverty, vi. Wars.

She also stated some of the signs and symptoms of stress to include; irritability, anger, apathy, poor eating or over eating, fatigue and depression. Dr. Khalid added that the effects of stress include; headaches, lack of sleep, anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Dr. Khalid gave some of the preventive measures for stress as; avoiding stress if possible by managing time, planning ahead of time and learning to say no, learning to address the problem bringing on the stress and engaging in stress relief activities like resting, eating a balanced diet and engaging in fun activities.

Dr. Fareeda Adusei Wilson who is the National Sihat-e-Jismani secretary informed members that in addition to all the preventive measures stated in both presentations, if a member does not see any improvement in their mental health, that individual must go to the health facility and see a psychologist, the psychologist will examine her if it demands that she be referred to see a psychiatrist the psychologist will do so. She also stated that the secretariat has counseling sessions coming in a week’s time and so members can take advantage of these sessions to get the needed help they want.

The two presentations were followed by an Open forum where members asked questions and also shared their personal life experiences. The questions were answered by Dr. Fareeda Adusei Wilson with support from Madam Nusrat Gyasi and Madam Halima Opoku, a retired nurse. The various presentations were done in English and also translated in Twi and Wale for the non-English speaking members. Attendance was 285 with representation from all 32 zones. The workshop ended around 11.15 am with a closing prayer led by Madam Halima Opoku from Kumasi North zone.

Reported by: Dr. Fareeda Adusei Wilson (Secretary Sihat-e-Jismani)

Nusrat Yaa Asantewaa Gyasi (Naib Secretary I Sihat-e-Jismani)

Dr. Jameelah Khalid (Naib Secretary II Sihat –e-Jismani)

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