Mental illness


*Generalized Anxiety Disorder: GAD is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than 1 specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as 1 anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.


Disclaimer: Despite having had severe anxiety since childhood, it is only now that I have decided to give a deeper and personal account of my experience. This isn’t to acquire any sympathy or pity for I believe Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity, but rather to use this platform to share more information on mental illnesses and hopefully make you, dear reader, be more enlightened about such matters, and to be more understanding, compassionate and empathetic towards people in your own circles that have similar challenges. And also give a chance for those with similar issues to know that they’re not alone and that they’re emotions are valid. Anyway, here goes nothing…


Living with generalized anxiety, especially since childhood, is an extreme sport. The mind is a wild, wild place; everything escalates from 0 to 100 every.single.time. Even when it shouldn’t be so. Even when you have deep faith in Allah. Even when it is something so small, it is silly to overthink like that. But we still do. There is a fellow who told me a couple of times after reading my blogs that my anxiety is just about my mindset and that I should JUST STOP overthinking and think more positively. Just stop then khalas, you’ll be good to go. And as much as having a positive mindset can reduce your anxiety, it is a bigger struggle than that. Ask anyone who’s ever been diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist with any type of anxiety they’ll tell you that living with such disorders is jihadu-nnafs. Quite literally. It is a continuous battle with yourself and your brain.

Every thing, every encounter, every experience with anyone is catastrophized; always thinking of worst case scenario. Then there’s the excessive worry over the smallest of matters and big ones too. Then there’s the panic attacks that make you feel like you’re about to go crazy or lose it completely. There’s the crying spells which can come to you at any time, out of the blue, and the tears just keep coming and coming-uncontrollable! There’s the excessive fear which controls your life; it makes you always live on edge. Then there’s the obsessive and repetitive thoughts that often overwhelm the mind. There’s also the depression and physical illnesses that sometimes tag along with the anxiety…The list goes on and on…

When I am extremely happy, I keep thinking that something bad is going to follow shortly thereafter. Happiness makes me anxious too. And even when it is someone else who’s extremely happy, I get nervous for them, ‘What if they lose that? What if the happiness doesn’t last long?’ And I quickly make dua for them so that their joy lasts. Then there’s the over-analysis of situations which take you down a dark rabbit hole of overthinking. Every single conversation is scrutinized; ‘Did I say the right thing? Should I have said this instead? Are they mad at me? I felt their tone change, did I hurt them? Perhaps they still misunderstood me? Should I clarify further for the fourth time?’ Every single thing goes so far; blown out of proportion. Worries; worries every day, worries everywhere. 

A simple trip to town could easily bring about death anxiety. I start imagining the car I am in getting into a very tragic accident. But it never ends there. I start imagining the details of the accident, the position they’ll find me in, when my family are informed, when I am declared dead, and when my loved ones start crying because of my departure. And this wild imagination is so real to me that it makes me tear up and I sometimes get a panic attack abruptly. I am grieving my death. 

When I am using a water heater or a toaster, I imagine getting electrocuted. And when a huge lorry or oil tanker passes by close to me, I immediately think of the ‘Final destination’ movies and imagine the lorry falling over me and crashing my bones 😀 When a stranger approaches me on the road, my guard is immediately on because I am afraid I could be conned or kidnapped or worse than that. There’s so so much to anxiety than people ever understand. That I wish they understood.

It wasn’t helpful that I grew up hearing people say mental illness is because of weak imaan. It really made me question my level of faith. Yet to be very honest, anxiety is one of the most draining and exhausting things to experience. It is so hard to fully experience the small and even big joys of life.

In a crazy world like ours where there is too much information everywhere, it is even harder for people with anxiety. You scroll, a mother has stabbed her two year old and ate her internal organs. Scroll further, a pastor has brainwashed an entire village to starve to death so as to meet Jesus. Scroll further, a father has been raping his daughters for years after his wife passed away. Go to another app, Palestinians and Uyghurs are being tortured to death. A war in Sudan; so many people stranded. Something is going on here, something is going on there…it never ends, the world never pauses Subhanallah. The information overload overwhelms you and drains you deeply. It makes you sad and helpless and truly anxious. Even with the knowledge and trust in Allah, even with the understanding that Allah tests us so that we can return to Him, the anxiety is mostly there. Jihadu-nnafs.

Being an educator, a recently graduated psychologist and a spiritual (among other categories) blogger for about ten years, there’s a kind of pedestal that people put you on. You never asked for it but it is constantly being mentioned, ‘You’re my mentor,’ or ‘I look up to you’. They think you’ve made it in life even when the reality is very different. This deeply terrifies me. The imposter syndrome kicks in. ‘But why? I am not the right person to look up to. I have so many flaws. I am really struggling with surrendering 110% to Allah or trusting Allah about the unknown. I always try to control how things roll out in my life, and when they don’t happen my way, it takes me down a very dark hole of heartbreak and pain. I am definitely not the person to even consider as a role model.’ Even when I don’t say these words out loud, it always gets to me. What if someone is misguided through me? Or someone who looks up to me, follows my unsteady footsteps? How will I deal with that when I am standing in front of Allah and He asks me about it? I will never be ready for such questioning by Allah. So I divert the couple of people who look up to me, to instead, look up to the prophets peace be upon them and pious predecessors who died upon imaan and were promised Jannah. And of course, they are indeed the best examples for us to follow and look up to more than anyone else.

There is this hadith that always hits me. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said:”The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.'”

My older sister whom I look up to is always the kind of person to say ‘Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala whenever something doesn’t go her way. Even if she goes on to grieve but she doesn’t allow it to overweigh her brain. She knows and truly believes that Allah knows best, may Allah bless her soul. And I adore that so much because I wish I was like that too. I wish my brain could stop overthinking. I wish my heart could fully accept the challenges of life. I wish I was able to immediately accept Allah’s qadar without throwing a tantrum or crying on and on about it such that it may lead to despair (May Allah protect us).

The hardest thing for me has been to be kind to myself. To realize and accept that this is my test from Allah, to accept the little good and benefit I bring to this world and people around me and to be more forgiving towards my mistakes in life. And while I have not overcome the anxiety, I am doing my best. I am taking medication, I am reading widely about it (in fact I took the Islamic Psychology degree at IOU because I wanted to understand whether I truly had weak imaan or what exactly was happening to me), I go for therapy, and I constantly pray to Allah to grant my soul peace and tranquility, alleviate my restlessness, overthinking and worries, and to make me among the Mutawakkilin (those who trust in Him) and the people of ‘Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala’.

One of my biggest motivations is a hadith by the prophet peace be upon him. He said, “Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a cubit, and if he draws near to Me a cubit, I draw near to him a fathom. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.” (Hadith 15, 40 Hadith Qudsi). So I am doing my best to think better of Allah. To not allow my negative thoughts to divert me from Allah’s mightiness, wisdom and mercy. To never think that my plans are better than what Allah has chosen for me. That the tests from Allah are meant to make me get closer to Him rather than to punish me. And perhaps there’s a bigger benefit from this test, and that is, I get to talk more about such topics that are not openly talked about in our community.

Unfortunately, the fellow who used to tell me about changing my mindset developed anxiety during the early phases of Corona. He was unemployed at the time with no source of income. Having such abundant time on his hands while the world went into a panic, overthinking and anxiety of the corona virus kicked in him. He once called me to say that he now realizes it isn’t as simple as he initially thought. That it is much harder, and a huge struggle Subhanallah, and he asked for help on how to deal with it. Alhamdulilah his anxiety ended when things calmed down a bit around the world and after seeing a counsellor. The only reason I tell this story is for people to realize the same; it is not easy to have a mental disorder. Not at all. So please be patient, understanding and compassionate towards your loved ones and people around you, you just never know the huge mountains they carry. Educate yourself about these matters if you have to and offer help whenever you can. Be their support system and be there for them. Yet the best gift you can give them is making dua for their well-being and peace of mind.

We, as Muslims, believe that nothing is impossible to Allah Subhanahu Wataala. He can cure every single ailment and He can move mountains for us. However, we are also expected to do our due diligence by seeking treatment through talk therapy, medication and lifestyle changes. Most importantly is to get closer to Allah through the recitation of the Qur’an, making dhikr and always making dua to Allah to remove such conditions from us and to make us better believers.

Despite all the challenges and struggles of anxiety, it is not always doom and gloom. Anxiety makes people be highly empathetic, loving and compassionate. It makes you have high instincts which can benefit you in observing one’s surroundings, it keeps you motivated and can actually help in your performance nd make you have a great work ethic. It makes one highly aware of what could go wrong, and makes you think of all possibilities while dealing with a situation. This makes the anxious individual to be a careful decision maker and great problem solver among other benefits. Plus the anxiety memes are hilarious, that’s a bonus 😀

To end this piece, there’s a conversation I want to share that I once had with my father and brother while driving to another town. My father told us about an accident he witnessed many years back. An ice cream van was trying to overtake another car, but it lost control and hit a huge tree. When they went to check on the driver, they found the steering wheel had hit right into the driver’s seat. But the driver’s upper body was right above the steering wheel (on the roof of the car) and each of his legs was on either side of the wheel. Had the steering wheel hit him directly, he could have come out with major injuries probably, but Subhanallah, the man came out unscathed except for one small scratch on his arm. 

I asked my dad, ‘Was the man Muslim? Perhaps he had made dhikr that morning and it protected him by Allah’s mercy…’ Before he could answer me, I said, ‘I once heard a sheikh ask something powerful; how can you go to the battlefield unarmed? How can you start your day without dhikr?’ My dad nodded then explained that the driver wasn’t Muslim but at the end of the day, if something isn’t meant to harm you, it won’t, and some people give a lot of charity and for that, Allah showers them with His mercy.

I was about to get to my destination so I couldn’t continue with the conversation. I said to my brother, ‘Please drop me on the other side of the road, I am afraid of crossing this busy road.’ He then laughed and said, ‘Aren’t you the one who’s just from telling us about going to the battlefield unarmed?’ I laughed too and said, ‘I did do my dhikr this morning though.’ Then he said, ‘Then what are you afraid of when you’ve already asked for Allah’s protection?’

I was speechless.

I went out of the car towards my destination while deeply pondering on his last words, SubhanAllah.

‘What are you afraid of when you’ve already asked for Allah’s protection?!’ 

“Say: “Nothing will befall us except what Allah has decreed for us; He is our Protector.” Let the believers, then, put all their trust in Allah.”

 [Qur’an 9:51]

Thank you for reading this to the end. Please do make dua for me to acquire peace of mind and to go for umrah soon for I really yearn for the tranquility made available by Allah Subhanahu Wataala in the holy cities. And do pray for those with mental illnesses. May Allah grant us all ease, relief and comfort, ameen. Shukran 🙂

P.S: If you have anxiety, always remember this: ‘YOUR ANXIETY IS A LIAR!’






Photo Courtesy: https://incafrica.com/

Definition of terms:

Mental health: A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

Mental illness: Health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

It is crucial to understand that mental illnesses are not only the common disorders like depression, anxiety, OCD and bipolar. There are other mental disorders including learning disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, sexual disorders, mood disorders among many others. It is thus important that none of us ignore any distress we are experiencing and seek help when we can. Parents have to look out for their children for any unusual behaviour, slow response in their learning or interaction or how they deal with difficult situations and take them for therapy in case of anything unsettling.

When should you seek help?

  • You feel an overwhelming and prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness, and your problems do not seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends. 
  • You are finding it difficult to carry out everyday activities: for example, you are unable to concentrate on assignments at work, and your job performance is suffering as a result. 
  • You worry excessively, expect the worst or are constantly on edge.
  • You often find it difficult to sleep, nothing seems to calm you down and feel frustrated most times, sometimes for no apparent reason.
  • When you’re seeing/hearing unusual sounds that others are not.
  • When you experience a major shift in your life or a tragedy, for example war, abuse, an accident, marriage, divorce, violence, loss of a loved one, moving to a new country/city/school etc
  • Your actions are harmful to yourself or to others: for instance, you are drinking too much alcohol, have a temper, abusing drugs, becoming overly argumentative and aggressive think/plan on committing suicide.

Please note that these are but a few of the symptoms. There are many more and you may decide to research further on them.

Another important thing to note is that counselling/therapy is not only for those crazy or addicts. For a healthy lifestyle one should seek therapy even when they feel pretty much okay. Just like you would go for a physical check-up at the hospital, you should also go for a session for your mental health whenever possible. We all experience difficulties in life and it is not bad sometimes to have a safe space to just open up and release the stress.

How do I choose my provider?

Mental health providers like any other health professionals are different. Some have more experience than others. Some come from different backgrounds. Some are more qualified than others. Some have worked more with specific kind of clients (example: children, addicts, spouses etc). Some charge more than others. Seeing a therapist at a public hospital is mostly cheaper than seeing them in their private clinics/offices. Most importantly, their methods also differ. It is thus important to take your time to find out which mental health provider is appropriate for you.

Here are some of the questions you may ask:

  • Are you a licensed psychologist/coach/counsellor? How many years have you been practicing?
  • I have been feeling (anxious, tense, depressed, etc.) and I’m having problems (with my job, my marriage, eating, sleeping, etc.). What experience do you have helping people with these types of problems?
  • What are your areas of expertise — for example, working with children and families?
  • What kinds of treatments do you use, and have they been proven effective for dealing with my kind of problem or issue?
  • Do you incorporate Islamic principles, values, methods and techniques in your treatment plan (for your Muslim clients)?
  • Are your sessions strictly physical or do you also do virtual ones?
  • What are your fees per session? How is the payment process (can one pay weekly or monthly? Can one pay via Mpesa? Is there room for a discount?)

Wellness & Mental Health Providers:

Life Coach: A life coach is a type of wellness professional who helps people make progress in their lives in order to achieve their goals and attain greater fulfillment. Life coaches aid their clients in improving their relationships, careers, and day-to-day lives.

While working with a life coach may help you to deal with certain unresolved issues, life coaches cannot treat mood disorders, anxiety disorders, addiction, or any other mental health condition.

Counsellor: A counsellor is a mental health practitioner who gives guidance on personal or psychological problems. They mainly address clients’ emotional and relationship issues through talk therapy and skills development. They often work in school or career settings and private practice.

Counsellors can go by different titles depending on the type of education they received, the population of clients they work with, and the settings they practice in. Common examples are Licensed professional counsellor (LPC) and licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT).

Psychotherapist: A psychotherapist has specialized training in treating mental disorders. They use talk therapy to help people find better ways to cope with emotional issues and overcome unhealthy behaviors or thinking patterns. Psychotherapists can be psychiatrists or psychologists.

Psychologists: A psychologist is someone who studies the mind and behavior.  This profession actually encompasses a wide range of specialty areas including such things as animal research and organizational behavior.

The term psychologist can apply to people who:

  • Use psychological knowledge and research to solve problems, such as treating mental illnesses
  • Work as social scientists to conduct psychological research and teach at colleges or universities

Examples of psychologists include:

  • Counselling psychologist: A counselling psychologist helps people of all ages deal with emotional, social, developmental, and other life concerns using mostly psychotherapy (talk therapy). These professionals use a variety of strategies to help people manage behavioral issues, cope with stress, alleviate anxiety and distress, and deal with the issues associated with psychological disorders.

Take note that a counselling psychologist holds a higher qualification that a counsellor. As such, they primarily treat clients with serious mental health conditions than counsellors. 

  • Clinical Psychologist: A clinical psychologist assesses, diagnoses and treats individuals experiencing psychological distress and mental illness. They also perform psychotherapy and develop treatment plans. Clinical psychologists tend to focus on psychopathology (abnormal mental states) and thus often work in hospitals, mental health clinics, and private practice. They typically deal with clients experiencing more severe mental illnesses that counselling psychologists do. 

While clinical psychologists often work in medical settings, they are not physicians and in most cases cannot prescribe medications.

Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of mental disorders. Because psychiatrists hold a medical degree and are trained in the practice of psychiatry, they are one of the few professionals in the mental health field able to prescribe medications to treat mental health issues. Much like a general practice physician, a psychiatrist may perform physical exams and order diagnostic tests in addition to practicing psychotherapy.



Kindly take note that these are submitted names after a call-out I made on my social media platforms right after conducting a survey on ‘UNDERSTANDING THE PERCEPTIONS, ATTITUDES AND COPING MECHANISMS OF MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AMONG MUSLIMS IN KENYA. Unfortunately, I was limited to providing full information about each one and there are also many more therapists/coaches out there that are not mentioned.

I also cannot verify anything more about them (than provided below) and will therefore not be responsible for anything beyond this article. I would therefore advise the client themselves to do their homework, ask the questions mentioned above and find the appropriate therapist/centre.

In case of any wrongly/missing written names/addresses or any short-coming, kindly pardon me and would appreciate a correction email: lubnah.abdulhalim@gmail.com

I pray that the information provided will be beneficial biidhnillah. Kindly share this post and subscribe to the blog below; you never know who might need it!

Dr Ilham Mohamed FarajPsychiatrist at Afya first medical centre/ Coast General Hospital
Spaki, Mombasa0721946477
Dr. Nabila AminConsultant psychiatrist at Chiromo hospital group
Dr. Neema ArakaPsychiatry resident at Mathari hospital/Psychotherapist & Life coach at FITAHI
Dr Husna Salim Ali
Psychiatrist at Mandera county referral hospital South C & Minaret Hospital South B
Dr Salwa Haithar
Consultant psychiatrist at Chiromo hospital groupLavington, Nairobi0797784446 (Clinic line)
Dr Janbibi Yusuf
Psychiatry RegistrarEldoret0707180531
Salma Bashir
Clinical psychologist at Health Source
Nyali, Mombasa0786477699
Wafiyyah HamidClinical psychologistMombasa0722425000  (Prefers SMS/Whatsapp to calls)
Mumtaz MohamedshafiClinical psychologist/psychotherapist/Art therapist/Play therapist etcMombasa0717408069
Soud Alli TengahClinical psychologistMombasa0114152081
Salma AhmedClinical psychologist (working with National Police Service Commission)
Riziki AhmedClinical psychologist at Hidaya Timeless Solutions
Nafisa Abass
Clinical psychologistNairobi0722492999
Halima Khalif
Clinical psychologistNairobi0732082869
Aysha Ali Hassan
Mohamed Said Athman
Psychotherapist/TrainerSouth C, Nairobi0796757074
Musa Mwale Kanenje
Nuru AminPsychotherapist/Psychologist/Ongoing MAMFT
Virtualtherapywithnuu. business.site  
Nana Ali MohamedSenior accredited counselling psychologist (KCPA registered) at Potreitz Subcounty/ Private practice at Kheiyrunnisaa Medical CenterMombasa0712820121
Saida Bukheit
Counselling psychologistMombasa0722662568
Nawal Mareai Al-Karbi 
Counselling psychologist/Child & play therapist (Women & Children only)Nyali, Mombasa0725202777 
Aisha Hassan (Munira)
Counselling psychologistNairobi0790398212
Khadija Hussein Abdow
Counselling psychologistNairobi0792612238
Rukia Mohamed
Counselling psychologist/General counsellorMachakos county within Nairobi Metropolis0723024017
Fawziya A. Hashil  
Counselling psychologist/TEAM CBT & mediator certification (on-going)Nairobi0769889359
Hamida Ahmed
Counselling psychologist & Wellness services/TrainerNairobi0718233759
Imaad Saleh
Counselling psychologist/Certified associate counsellorMombasa/Nairobi0736693525
Muslima Essak
Counselling psychologistFree Virtual during weekdaysmuslimaessak@   yahoo.com
Halima Abdalla Al-Harazi
Community counsellorTown centre, Mombasa+254104001211
Zeitun Juma

Counsellor at Amani Counselling/Freelance tooNairobi0727802749
Farhiya Yusuf Abdi
Counsellor (mostly young adults & teenagers) Virtual0792928988
Nusrat Mohammed
Mindset coach/Corporate wellness coachMombasa0708944883
Ilham Amin
Life & spiritual CoachVirtualilhaminated@ gmail.com
Ruwaida Abdulaziz Dohry
Life Coach & Islamic psychology counsellingVirtual appointments/scheduled appointments at masajids (At the moment, TSS)0756903506
Noor Counselling Centre
Guidance & Counselling institutionMombasa0739724234
Ta’alluful Quloob
Guidance & Counselling/Match making institutionMombasa0774222204/ 0111222205
Shariffa Centre
Family/Marital counselling institutionMombasa0722499986
Mewa Rehabilitation Centre
Rehabilitation & Counselling CentreMombasa0722819795/
Ruby Family Care Clinic
Mental health care (among other health services)Malindi0722523847
Family Resource Centre
Guidance & Counselling institution/Family servicesJamia Plaza, Nairobi0717767888
The Pearl Recovery
Addiction and Mental health recoveryAthi River0798756046





N.B: This article is focusing on the distressed student. However, it can be helpful in all spheres of life such as at home, work places and social life. Please read through.

We all face stress in our lives. Stress can be positive sometimes, however, it can be debilitating when it is a lot. Students are usually under a lot of pressure with both their academic and personal lives. While students have found different ways to cope with the system, sometimes it can become too much and thereafter lead to distress or even depression.

Emotional distress can be explained as a state of mental anguish which may result from a certain circumstance or mental health issue. The staff of a school have the better opportunity to notice when a student is distressed and that includes the school counsellor and fellow students too. This is because, they get to interact with them throughout the day. It is crucial for all school staff members to be familiar with, and watchful for, risk factors and warning signs of suicidal behavior. The entire school staff should work to create an environment where students feel safe sharing such information. 

Sometimes, students who are distressed may be perceived as simply ‘naughty’, or ‘bad’ by teachers and peers. This perception may in turn damage their self-esteem and make them feel shunned by those around them. It is thus important that teachers and school counsellors be on the look-out for any indications of stress or depression.

There are several matters that could cause distress to a student, including (but not limited to):

• Broken relationships/family

• Loss of a family member/friend

• Illness of a loved one

• Conflict with family or a close person

• Victim of assault

• Sudden change i.e. moving to another town/school

• Traumatic experience example rape, war, accident, floods etc

• Mental health condition

When one is faced with such difficult situations, there might be some changes in the person. The following are some of the indications of a student who is struggling.

  • Unusual Behaviour:

 • Falling asleep in class frequently

• Threatening or disruptive behavior in classroom  

• Marked changes in appearance, example hygiene and weight

• Extreme mood swings or inappropriate, excessive display of emotion

• Sudden withdrawal from others or excessive sleep

• Chronic irritability, excessive anxiety or hyperactivity

• Confusion, bizarre behaviour or disorientation

· Unusual bruises or cuts on hands or body

· Sadness, tearfulness

· Extreme loss of appetite or binge eating frequently

· Dependency, i.e. the student keeps making appointments to see you

· Lack of energy and enthusiasm about various aspects of student life

• Preoccupation with death

  • Problems with Academic Performance:

• Poor academic performance or a sudden decline in performance from previous tests.

• Request for special accommodations

• Speech or test anxiety

• Not attending classes or not doing assignments

  • Harmful Statements or Behaviours:

• Uses statements of helplessness or mentions about suicidal thoughts

• Indications of prolonged unhappiness

• Extreme risk-taking behavior

• Use of drugs or alcohol

• Getting violent or aggressive with classmates or other students

In addition to the above mentioned signs, if a student is suicidal, they show other clues of their struggle:

  • Verbal cues: a student may directly or indirectly communicate their suicidal thoughts (sometimes even using jokes) or intentions by saying things like:

· “I’m going to kill myself.”

· “Everyone would be better off without me.”

· “I just can’t take it any longer.”

· “I wish I were dead.”

“I am tired of this life.”

  • Behavioral Clues: a student may do something that may reveal self-destructive intentions, like:

· A previous suicide attempt, especially if recent

· Giving away valued possessions

· Procuring means: asking for sedatives or buying a gun

· Composing a suicide note

·  Resigning from social groups, extracurricular activities,  

· Crying spells without external triggers

· Visiting a physician for unexplained or vague symptoms

· Substance abuse

Youth who feel suicidal are not likely to seek help directly; however, parents, school staff, and peers can recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to ensure the student’s safety. According to Worthington (1982), the most crucial step in assisting another person, is make them believe that you understand them. This can be achieved by asking the right questions, listening attentively to their concerns and evaluating the person’s needs. When a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide, the following actions should be taken:

• Remain calm: To be of greater assistance and to reduce the student’s agitation one needs to stay calm.

• Provide a quiet, private place (if possible) for the student to rest in the mean time

• Talk to the student clearly and in a straight forward way on whether they feel suicidal or are considering committing it.

• Listen to them and do not judge! Be kind and empathetic.

• Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.

• Do not leave them alone

• Make arrangements for appropriate aid from other experts

• Remove means for self-harm.

Get help: No one should ever agree to keep a youth’s suicidal thoughts a secret and instead should tell an appropriate caregiving adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school psychologist/counsellor. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible. School staff should take the student to a school-employed mental health professional or administrator.

As for the students themselves, it is also important to be on the look out for any weird or unusual behaviour in yourself, your mates and friends. A lot of times nowadays, youth use social media as a way to seek help. DO NOT ASSUME THAT THEY ARE SIMPLY SEEKING ATTENTION. Don’t gamble with that. So whenever you see any posts with suicidal ideation or posts of self-harm like cutting oneself or jokes on suicide (especially when done more than once) reach out! This could be their cry for help and you could be all they need to stay alive (Okay perhaps not ALL they need but you could play an important role in preventing them from taking their life and that should count for something).

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, once a child or adolescent is considered at risk, schools, families, and friends should work to build these factors in and around the youth. These include:

  • Family support and cohesion, including good communication.
  • Peer support and close social networks.
  • School and community connectedness.
  • Cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide and promote healthy living.
  • Adaptive coping and problem-solving skills, including conflict-resolution.
  • General life satisfaction, good self-esteem, sense of purpose.
  • Easy access to effective medical and mental health resources.

To get assistance, here are some counselling offices that you can reach out to, not just when feeling suicidal, but whenever in distress.

  1. Taalluful Quloob: 0780 222 205/0111 222 205
  2. Noor Counselling Centre: 0739 724 234
  3. Amani Counselling Centre: 0735 744 389


Benton, S.A. & Benton, S.L, (2006). College student mental health: Effective services and strategies across campus. National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Inc.

DeRosier, M. & Lloyd, S. (2010) The Impact of Children’s Social Adjustment on Academic Outcomes, Reading & Writing Quarterly, 27:1-2 DOI: 10.1080/10573569.2011.532710

Grothaus, T. (n.d.) School Counselors Serving Students with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. asca | Professional School Counseling, 16(4).

Worthington, E.L.. (1982). When someone asks for help: A practical guide for counseling. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

National Association of School Psychologists: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/mental-health-resources/preventing-youth-suicide/preventing-youth-suicide-tips-for-parents-and-educators