Sharjah teen writes book to help teenagers tackle mental health issues

Sharjah teen writes book to help teenagers tackle mental health issues

During the COVID-19 pandemic, several people went through mental health issues. Mahra Ali Alali was one of them who underwent mental health issues due to indefinite lockdown as part of the pandemic-containment efforts. 

During a recent interview, the 14-year-old Sharjah teen explained how she used to be a productive person. However, the pandemic circumstances made her procrastinate various activities. 

In her book Build a Better You — For Teens, Mahra has detailed her experience of the lockdown period in December 2020 when she started attending online classes from her bed and spent hours on social media. 

“I realised that I needed help and I am really proud that I focused and developed myself. I began to feel satisfied about my day and I wanted to help other teenagers too,” she said. 

As a teen who loves reading self-help books, she decided to write one for teenagers.

She underlined how self-help books helped her in learning new things. Following this, she decided to write one in March last year in simple English to help teenagers overcome the situation. 

"I wanted them to know that it’s okay to take a break once in a while. I know what teenagers are going through and I wanted to tell them that whatever they are feeling is okay and normal," she added. 

Her book is packed with crucial life lessons, inspiring anecdotes and passage to uplift the mood of teens who are experiencing mental health concerns. At core, the book lists seven steps to increase productivity and the quality of one’s life. According to her, ‘7’ is her lucky number.

According to a UNICEF study, teen mental health emerged as a core concern of discussion during the COVID-19 pandemic. As children isolated from the social world, their daily life was disrupted, risk factors for depression in children and adolescents increased. 

In her book, Mahra has suggested various healthy habits like journalling, meditation and self-care to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. She added that teenagers largely felt isolated as they were unable to socialise and meet their closed family and friends.

"In general, teenagers get so affected by their friendships — they get sad, sometimes depressed and they lock themselves in the room because of this. They try to fit in by pretending to be someone they are not. So in the book, I have tried to tell them to embrace who they are," she pointed out. 

She underlined that even she gets affected with changes in her personal life and environment. She also talked about the impact of doomscrolling on teenagers’ fragile minds. Social media impact teenagers significantly as they compare their lives with what they see online. 

“It brings them down, even if they weren’t feeling down. We should remember that we only know what they want us to know," Mahra said. 

Out of the seven steps, Mahra suggested the art of letting go is personally hard to implement.

“Teenagers generally have a lot of free time and spend most of it on their phones. So, we think about the past repeatedly and it becomes very hard to put it all behind us,” she pointed out.

Seeking happiness

As the oldest of six kids in her family, Mahra believes she matured at a rapid stage. She noted that she spent more time with older people, like her mother. 

"I feel like my brain is a bit mature for my age,” she said.

Furthermore, she comes from a family of writers, which made it easier for her to write the inspiring book for teenagers.

“I always wanted to do something with my life. But it took me a while to pick up reading as a serious hobby. I used to flip through storybooks when I was too young to read and was determined to read them one day. But when I grew older, I started picking up the thinnest book in the library to read,” she recalled.

The book 'The Four Agreements' given to her by her mother made her fall in love with reading. Currently, she is working on a second book focusing on happiness and fulfillment.

“I am looking at developing this further — maybe I will start an online course. But right now, I am taking it slow,” she concluded.


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