First Virtual Peace Symposium Discussing Mental Health: Responsibilities Of The State And Faith
Mental health is an increasing issue globally. A combination of factors can lead to instability, depression and the decline of one's mental health. Sometimes, finding support becomes incredibly difficult for those suffering.
Commenting on the need to discuss mental health, the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at New Zealand (AMJ NZ), Mr Bashir Khan said: “There is an increasing number of New Zealanders suffering from the negative effects of mental health. There are increasing suicide rates and more and more people are suffering from depression and anxiety. Sometimes, external factors like the failing economy, the effects of Covid-19 on social life etc. can exacerbate these problems. Therefore, we thought it timely to discuss this topic at our Peace Symposium, since inner peace is essential”
Hon. Priyanca Radhakrishnan MP, Parliamentary private secretary to the Minister of Ethnic Affairs, spoke on behalf of the Hon. Jenny Salesa, Minister of Ethnic Affairs.
The panel of three esteemed speakers consisted of Dr Ian Soosay (Clinical Director Mental Health & Addiction at Counties Manukau Health), Member of Parliament Hon. Michael Wood and Imam Shafiq Ur Rehman.
Around 250 guests tuned in to the annual peace symposium, which for the first time was held virtually, on the topic of “Mental Health: Responsibility of State and Faith”.
Dr Ian Soosay highlighted the support systems available for mental health patients. He emphasised that the key for the state’s health system is to prepare for the future and identify early intervention strategies for mental health disabilities, similar to how we have responded to and reduced casualties from cardiac issues.
Hon. Michael Wood laid out and explained the five ways to wellbeing, among many other programmes and strategies set out by the Mental Health Foundation.
Summarising the proceeding, the National President of AMJ NZ, Mr Bashir Khan said: “It was also notable how faith inadvertently ‘connects’ people to communities, encourages people ‘to take notice’ of the things that give joy, encourages its adherents to ‘give’ in different ways for example by spending on the poor; requires one to ‘keep learning’ and engaging in different activities and some faith groups also encourage one to ‘be active’ through exercise, meditation and worship. This shows the vital role faith plays in the mental wellbeing of individuals.”
Whilst shedding light on the Quranic verse: ‘It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort’(Ch.13:V.29); Imam Shafiq ur Rehman also emphasised the importance of faith and trust in God. He spoke about the incredible difficulties and hardships all founders of faiths and prophets have faced throughout history and how their belief and trust in God, their prayers and steadfastness took them through these times of trial and they were blessed by God.
The event concluded with a combined prayer and an increased desire and commitment to work towards establishing a society where true inner peace can be achieved by all individuals.