Youth Conference: Muslim Teens to Tackle Mental Health, Addiction

LONDON, Ontario – A local mosque in London, Ontario, is hosting the second event on Saturday, Sunday to off Muslim youth a platform to tackle stigmatization, mental health, and addiction, CBC reported.

“They want to talk about them. They want someone to support them with these subjects,” Mayssa Elsayegh, the youth coordinator at the London Muslim Mosque, said noting that youth prioritized topics including sex and drugs.

“It is not something we want to continue to discuss as a stigma anymore.”

The event was first held last year by the London Muslim Mosques.

The two-day event is expected to bring together about 300 students from London and as far as Toronto and Cambridge.

The event is not limited to Muslims only as a number of non-Muslims have also signed up for the conference, Elsayegh said.

“I felt more comfortable listening to topics like suicide or mental health. It’s really nice that people are finally shining some light on these heavy topics,” Hamdi Babeker, who attended the conference last year and returned this year as a peer leader.

“Growing up here in Canada, it’s different … when we practice our religion and go to high school, it’s different,” he said.

“In our religion, we’re not allowed to drink and we’re not allowed to date … but, you’re surrounded by all this stuff. It’s nice how speakers come and talk about these issues.”

The conference workshops include identity, masculinity and healthy relationships, living with mental illness, and fundamentals of addiction.

Ziyad Zabian, of the London Police Service, is holding a workshop about cannabis laws and Internet safety.

Meanwhile, Leroy Hibbert, multicultural outreach coordinator for LUSO Community Service, will talk about racism and cultural stigmas.

“The goal is to break the stigma and that kids can have access to the information that they need,” said Elsayegh.

“We hope to provide that extra step for support when there is a need for it.”

Naseeha, the Toronto-area helpline meaning ‘advice’ in Arabic, has received about 18,000 calls.

The calls basically revolve around societal pressure, Islamophobia, and addictions.

Ontario youth are also calling for spiritual and psychological help, specifically related to mental health, faith, and sexual orientation.