By Marwan Ahmad

The Arab Community cannot continue to live in denial of the important issue of mental illness. Mental illness is difficult to overcome and does not disappear if we simply place our heads in the sand and deny its existence. Mental illness is not only difficult for a person to recognize, but more importantly, it is difficult for one to ask for help in order to get medical treatment.

Many Arab societies do not discuss mental illness due to the stigma attached to mental illness and as a result, many Arabs who face mental illness fear the social restrictions and the label of insanity if they seek assistance.  In order to find out more about the causes of mental illness that afflicts modern societies, including the Arab society, we met with Moghitha Alkibsi.  Alkibsi is a Fairfax -Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB) Behavioral Health Clinician who specializes in providing culturally appropriate outreach to people from Middle Eastern cultures.  The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board is the public agency that plans, organizes, and provides services for people in our community who have mental illness, substance use disorders, and/or developmental disabilities. The CSB also provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers who have developmental delays. 

AlKibsi conducts awareness campaigns, especially for immigrants who are unaware of the causes and symptoms of mental illnesses. She conducts educational courses in Mosques, as well as periodic lectures for members of the Arab Community, and provides educational publications on mental illnesses.  Furthermore, she is an advisor to the Fairfax-Falls Church CSB on the customs of the Arab Society and some of the sensitivities in dealing with Arabs in terms of traditions and customs.  Alkibsi is the recipient of Fairfax County’s 2014 Human Rights Award for combating discrimination through promotion of interfaith dialogues.

Alkibsi states that there are two types of mental illnesses; first is behavioral and the second is physical. Insults by parents to their children can lead to the emergence of psychologically implications for children and adolescents, causing behavioral challenges. Abnormalities in parts of the brain due to the person’s biological makeup is a physical cause. 

The Arab society contains harsh methods of upbringing that sometimes affect the child’s psyche and produces individuals in society who are unable to deal with their surroundings. “In some families, violence is part of life, but it causes great psychological problems and is difficult to overcome even in advance treatment,” AlKibsi explains.

“The Arab society must realize that part of the mental illness is physical and is caused by a malfunction in the brain. The brain is like any other part of the body which may suffer from weakness and disease,” she explains. There are treatments for such diseases through medication. However, the diseases caused by societal and behavioral factors can be overcome by educating parents about methods of upbringing, one that is not violent or insulting. Behavioral diseases can become physical over time if it is not treated quickly and at an early stage.

“At first, it was very difficult for me and I would go home crying from some of the difficult situations, but with practice and experience, I could handle most of the situations that came to me. For example, dealing with a teenager who suffered physical abuse and violence after being arrested and assaulted by other prisoners took a toll on me.  Not to mention that I was a friend of the family, “AlKibsi stated.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, signs to look for if someone needs help are: feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks, crying regularly, feeling fatigued and feeling unmotivated.  Other signs include, severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships, or thoughts of personal harm or suicide. Immediately contact your doctor and get a referral to a mental health specialist.    

AlKibsi advises those who feel such symptoms or knows a family member who suffers from these symptoms, to ask for help from specialists so that the disease does not worsen. Mental illness should be discussed and thought of with openness because every patient deserves proper care and treatment.

For more signs of mental health issues, look to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org,as well as Fairfax County CSB, http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/csb.

حياة‭ ‬واشنطن

لا‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬للمجتمع‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يستمر‭ ‬في‭ ‬إنكار‭ ‬القضية‭ ‬الهامة‭ ‬المتمثلة‭ ‬في‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬العقلية‭. ‬من‭ ‬الصعب‭ ‬التغلب‭ ‬على‭ ‬المرض‭ ‬العقلي‭ ‬ولن‭ ‬والتخلص‭ ‬منه‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬وضعنا‭ ‬رؤوسنا‭ ‬في‭ ‬الرمال‭ ‬وننكر‭ ‬وجوده‭. ‬المرض‭ ‬العقلي‭ ‬ليس‭ ‬فقط‭ ‬صعبا‭ ‬على‭ ‬الشخص‭ ‬الإعتراف‭ ‬به‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬الأهم‭ ‬من‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬فإنه‭ ‬من‭ ‬الصعب‭ ‬على‭ ‬احد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يطلب‭ ‬المساعدة‭ ‬من‭ ‬أجل‭ ‬الحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬العلاج‭ ‬الطبي‭.‬

فالعديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬المجتمعات‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬لا‭ ‬تناقش‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬العقلية‭ ‬بسبب‭ ‬الوصمة‭ ‬المرتبطة‭ ‬بالمرض‭ ‬العقلي‭ ‬ونتيجة‭ ‬لذلك‭ ‬يخشى‭ ‬الكثير‭ ‬من‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يعانون‭ ‬من‭ ‬مرض‭ ‬عقلي‭ ‬من‭ ‬القيود‭ ‬الإجتماعية‭ ‬وعلامة‭ ‬الجنون‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬طلبوا‭ ‬المساعدة‭. ‬من‭ ‬أجل‭ ‬معرفة‭ ‬المزيد‭ ‬عن‭ ‬أسباب‭ ‬المرض‭ ‬العقلي‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬يصيب‭ ‬المجتمعات‭ ‬الحديثة‭ ‬بما‭ ‬في‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬التقينا‭ ‬مع‭ ‬مغيثة‭ ‬الكبسي‭. ‬مغيثة‭ ‬هي‭ ‬عضوة‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجلس‭ ‬الخدمات‭ ‬المجتمعية‭ ‬بمدينة‭ ‬فولز‭ ‬تشبرش‭ ‬وطبيبة‭ ‬الصحة‭ ‬السلوكية‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تختص‭ ‬في‭ ‬توفير‭ ‬التوعية‭ ‬المناسبة‭ ‬ثقافيا‭ ‬لأناس‭ ‬من‭ ‬ثقافات‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭. ‬ومجلس‭ ‬الخدمات‭ ‬المجتمعية‭ ‬لفوز‭ ‬تشيرش‭ ‬هو‭ ‬الوكالة‭ ‬العامة‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تخطط‭ ‬وتنظم‭ ‬وتوفر‭ ‬الخدمات‭ ‬للأشخاص‭ ‬في‭ ‬مجتمعنا‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬لديهم‭ ‬مرض‭ ‬عقلي‭ ‬واضطرابات‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬تعاطي‭ ‬المخدرات‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الإعاقة‭ ‬التنموية‭. ‬كما‭ ‬يقدم‭ ‬مركز‭ ‬الخدمة‭ ‬المدنية‭ ‬خدمات‭ ‬التدخل‭ ‬المبكر‭ ‬للرضع‭ ‬والأطفال‭ ‬الصغار‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬لديهم‭ ‬تأخر‭ ‬في‭ ‬النمو‭.‬

وتقوم‭ ‬مغيثة‭ ‬بحملات‭ ‬توعية‭ ‬خاصة‭ ‬للمهاجرين‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يعرفون‭ ‬أسباب‭ ‬وأعراض‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬العقلية‭. ‬وهي‭ ‬تنظم‭ ‬دورات‭ ‬تعليمية‭ ‬في‭ ‬المساجد‭ ‬فضلا‭ ‬عن‭ ‬محاضرات‭ ‬دورية‭ ‬لأعضاء‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬وتقدم‭ ‬منشورات‭ ‬تعليمية‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬العقلية‭. ‬وعلاوة‭ ‬على‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬فهي‭ ‬مستشارة‭ ‬في‭ ‬مدينة‭ ‬فولز‭ ‬تشيرش‭ ‬علن‭ ‬عادات‭ ‬المجتمعات‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬وبعض‭ ‬الحساسيات‭ ‬في‭ ‬التعامل‭ ‬مع‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬من‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬العادات‭ ‬والتقاليد‭. ‬وحصلت‭ ‬السيدة‭ ‬مغيثة‭ ‬على‭ ‬جائزة‭ ‬حقوق‭ ‬الإنسان‭ ‬في‭ ‬مقاطعة‭ ‬فيرفاكس‭ ‬لعام‭ ‬2014‭ ‬لمكافحة‭ ‬التمييز‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬تشجيع‭ ‬الحوارات‭ ‬بين‭ ‬الأديان‭.‬

تقول‭ ‬السيدة‭ ‬مغيثة‭ ‬أن‭ ‬هناك‭ ‬نوعين‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬النفسية‭. ‬الأول‭ ‬هو‭ ‬السلوكي‭ ‬والثاني‭ ‬هو‭ ‬العضوي‭. ‬ويمكن‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يؤدي‭ ‬إهانة‭ ‬الآباء‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬أطفالهم‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬ظهور‭ ‬آثار‭ ‬نفسية‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأطفال‭ ‬والمراهقين‭ ‬مما‭ ‬يسبب‭ ‬تحديات‭ ‬سلوكية‭. ‬وتشوهات‭ ‬في‭ ‬أجزاء‭ ‬من‭ ‬الدماغ‭ ‬بسبب‭ ‬تركيبة‭ ‬الشخص‭ ‬البيولوجي‭ ‬هو‭ ‬سبب‭ ‬عضوي‭.‬

ويستخدم‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬أساليب‭ ‬تنشئة‭ ‬قاسية‭ ‬تؤثر‭ ‬أحيانا‭ ‬على‭ ‬نفسية‭ ‬الطفل‭ ‬وتنتج‭ ‬عنه‭ ‬أفراد‭ ‬في‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬غير‭ ‬قادرين‭ ‬على‭ ‬التعامل‭ ‬مع‭ ‬محيطهم‭. ‬وتقول‭ ‬مغيثة‭ ‬‮«‬في‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬العائلات‭ ‬يشكل‭ ‬العنف‭ ‬جزءا‭ ‬من‭ ‬الحياة‭ ‬ولكنه‭ ‬يسبب‭ ‬مشاكل‭ ‬نفسية‭ ‬كبيرة‭ ‬ويصعب‭ ‬التغلب‭ ‬عليها‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬في‭ ‬العلاج‭ ‬المبكر‮»‬‭.‬

‮«‬يجب‭ ‬على‭ ‬المجتمع‭ ‬العربي‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يدرك‭ ‬أن‭ ‬جزءا‭ ‬من‭ ‬المرض‭ ‬العقلي‭ ‬هو‭ ‬جسدي‭ ‬وينجم‭ ‬عن‭ ‬خلل‭ ‬في‭ ‬الدماغ‭. ‬فالدماغ‭ ‬هو‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬أي‭ ‬جزء‭ ‬آخر‭ ‬من‭ ‬الجسم‭ ‬التي‭ ‬قد‭ ‬تعاني‭ ‬من‭ ‬الضعف‭ ‬والمرض‮»‬‭ ‬كما‭ ‬توضح‭. ‬هناك‭ ‬علاجات‭ ‬لمثل‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬الأدوية‭. ‬ومع‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬يمكن‭ ‬التغلب‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬الناجمة‭ ‬عن‭ ‬العوامل‭ ‬الاجتماعية‭ ‬والسلوكية‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬تثقيف‭ ‬الآباء‭ ‬حول‭ ‬أساليب‭ ‬التنشئة‭ ‬البعيدة‭ ‬عن‭ ‬العنف‭ ‬والإهانه‭. ‬ويمكن‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تصبح‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬السلوكية‭ ‬جسدية‭ ‬مع‭ ‬مرور‭ ‬الوقت‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬لم‭ ‬تعالج‭ ‬بسرعة‭ ‬وفي‭ ‬مرحلة‭ ‬مبكرة‭.‬

‮«‬في‭ ‬البداية‭ ‬كان‭ ‬من‭ ‬الصعب‭ ‬جدا‭ ‬بالنسبة‭ ‬لي‭ ‬التعامل‭ ‬مع‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الحالات‭ ‬فكنت‭ ‬أعود‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬المنزل‭ ‬من‭ ‬شدة‭ ‬البكاء‭ ‬بسبب‭ ‬بعض‭ ‬الحالات‭ ‬الصعبة‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الممارسة‭ ‬والخبرة‭ ‬أمكنني‭ ‬التعامل‭ ‬مع‭ ‬احدى‭ ‬الحالات‭ ‬التي‭ ‬جاءت‭ ‬لي‭. ‬على‭ ‬سبيل‭ ‬المثال‭ ‬التعامل‭ ‬مع‭ ‬مراهق‭ ‬عانى‭ ‬من‭ ‬الإيذاء‭ ‬الجسدي‭ ‬والعنف‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬اعتقاله‭ ‬والاعتداء‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬من‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬سجناء‭ ‬آخرين‭ ‬كان‭ ‬له‭ ‬أثر‭ ‬علي‭. ‬ناهيك‭ ‬عن‭ ‬أنني‭ ‬كنت‭ ‬صديقا‭ ‬للأسرة‮»‬‭.‬

ووفقا‭ ‬للتحالف‭ ‬الوطني‭ ‬بشأن‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬العقلية‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬الإشارات‭ ‬التي‭ ‬ينبغي‭ ‬البحث‭ ‬عنها‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬كان‭ ‬شخص‭ ‬ما‭ ‬بحاجة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬المساعدة‭ ‬هي‭ ‬الشعور‭ ‬بالحزن‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الانسحاب‭ ‬لأكثر‭ ‬من‭ ‬أسبوعين‭ ‬والبكاء‭ ‬بانتظام‭ ‬والشعور‭ ‬بالإرهاق‭ ‬وفقدان‭ ‬الحيوية‭. ‬وتشمل‭ ‬العلامات‭ ‬الأخرى‭ ‬تقلبات‭ ‬مزاجية‭ ‬شديدة‭ ‬تسبب‭ ‬مشاكل‭ ‬في‭ ‬العلاقات‭ ‬أو‭ ‬أفكار‭ ‬الأذى‭ ‬الشخصي‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الانتحار

وتنصح‭ ‬السيدة‭ ‬مغيثة‭ ‬أولئك‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يشعرون‭ ‬بهذه‭ ‬الأعراض‭ ‬أو‭ ‬يعرفون‭ ‬أحد‭ ‬أفراد‭ ‬الأسرة‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يعانون‭ ‬من‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الأعراض‭ ‬لطلب‭ ‬المساعدة‭ ‬من‭ ‬المتخصصين‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يتفاقم‭ ‬المرض‭. ‬وينبغي‭ ‬مناقشة‭ ‬المرض‭ ‬العقلي‭ ‬والتفكير‭ ‬في‭ ‬الإنفتاح‭ ‬لأن‭ ‬كل‭ ‬مريض‭ ‬يستحق‭ ‬الرعاية‭ ‬المناسبة‭ ‬والعلاج‭.‬

لمزيد‭ ‬من‭ ‬العلامات‭ ‬على‭ ‬قضايا‭ ‬الصحة‭ ‬العقلية‭. ‬انظر‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬موقع‭ ‬التحالف‭ ‬الوطني‭ ‬بشأن‭ ‬الأمراض‭ ‬العقلية‭ ‬www.nami.org‭ ‬فضلا‭ ‬عن‭ ‬مقاطعة‭ ‬فيرفاكس‭ ‬كشب‭ ‬http‭://‬www.fairfaxcounty.gov/csb‭. ‬