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How Islam helped my mental health

How Islam helped my mental health

By Sharlene Kuruppuarachchi

Diversity Young Lawyers Young Persons 

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I work as a lawyer at Victoria Legal Aid in family violence and criminal law. I work with vulnerable clients where I have to undertake in court duties and casework files. This means I have to juggle a number of tasks each day. My faith has helped me be patient with clients because I need to have sincere concern for other people when I am interacting with them. It has kept me grounded. I’m especially mindful of the fact that working day to day on family violence matters puts me at risk of vicarious trauma and other mental health illnesses. I have found it useful to self-reflect on the cases I am working on and talk to a senior lawyer within my team.

Being a Muslim has helped my mental health because it has provided meaning to my life. Before I was a Muslim I was floating through life with little meaning. Being a Muslim means that I am aware that God created everything and each opportunity I am given is from God. This means I now look at each aspect of my life through this lens. If I obtained an internship, I view it as a door that is being opened for me. If I apply for a role and I do not get that role then that role is not meant to be. In Islam the focus on mental health is not temporary. It is something people need to continue to work on until a person is no longer on earth. Mental health includes not just the way you treat yourself but how a person treats other people.

Islam emphasises taking care of your physical and mental health. I take care of my mental health by talking to someone about the issues I’m facing. This has allowed me to think my thoughts out loud and get another person’s opinion on how to face challenges. I have not always had the best physical health, so I returned my mind to Islam. It made me actively reassess the food I put in my body and how I was treating myself whilst I was working full time. I noticed I was reaching for fast food and eating on the run from work to volunteering or work to an event. These snap decisions meant I was not putting the best fuel in my body. I decided to actively engage health professionals to assist my physical health. This has led to positive changes in my life. I now eat food that is close to its natural state and have grown to include a wider range of food.

I am glad I found my faith because it has helped me to achieve a better work life balance. I have put my physical and mental health needs first. This has allowed me to better understand my thoughts and how I can improve myself. I have been able to function better at work knowing that I am using Islamic teachings to ground me in my work while I assist clients with their legal challenges.


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