Making Space for Healing
‘Making Space for Healing’ is a youth-led mental health resource for Muslim girls that offers tailored advice on how to improve wellbeing.
We know that Muslim girls face multiple inequalities such as Islamophobia, racism and sexism, which have a profound impact on their mental health.
Our zine recognises the different struggles Muslim girls face and provides them with a space to explore their emotions, offering practical tools on how to manage difficult moments.
From our work on Muslim Girls Fence, we have learnt that Muslim girls face a number of unique challenges that can impact their wellbeing.
In addition to coping with the typical challenges of adolescence, such as pressures from school, the influence of social media, beauty standards, and the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, Muslim girls are also forced to navigate a landscape marked by structural inequalities.
Experiences of racism, Islamophobia and sexism means that Muslim girls are more susceptible to struggle with feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem and isolation. Many girls have told us that Islamophobic rhetoric in the media makes them feel dehumanised and not in control of their image and their body.
Muslim young people also experience heightened levels of surveillance because of Prevent – the UK government policy that requires public sector employees to be on the lookout for signs of ‘radicalisation’, disproportionately targeting Muslim children. As a result, Muslim young people feel like they need to censor themselves and are reluctant to speak to teachers or mental health professionals to seek the help they need.
We recognise there is a real need for ‘culturally competent’ mental health resources that understand the impact of structural inequalities on mental health and wellbeing in young people. Existing mental health services and resources are often generic and take a one size fits all approach, exacerbating feelings of isolation and causing further harm within these communities.
What We Did
As part of our Muslim Girls Fence project, we work with schools across the country to create safe spaces for Muslim girls to explore their identity. Our approach includes a combination of fencing sessions, creative workshops and open discussions around race, gender and faith.
Working in collaboration with young people, mental health professionals, artists and fencing coaches, we developed a zine that addresses the complex needs of Muslim girls when it comes to their mental wellbeing.
The zine ‘Making Space for Healing’ offers a range of practices and techniques that equip Muslim girls with the tools they need to address challenging situations and navigate the complexity of their identities. It explores the five key elements from our project, which can help Muslim girls feel more confident and better understand their emotions:
The zine is a healing space where Muslim girls have the autonomy to define their needs, their strengths, and what makes them feel safe. In a context where Muslim girls are often silenced and surveilled, this platform enables them to express themselves fully and reclaim control over their identity, their stories, their body and their mental wellbeing.