Entrepreneurship, Youth & Nation Building

Abu Sultan for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

The term nation building basically means development of a nation. There are many grounds on which development takes place. It’s a strong perception that youth can take the nation to a height where it is supposed to be. Youth have always been energetic and innovative in their thoughts. Their tongue usually speaks about change, their ears have become habitual of hearing about change, and finally their eyes are dying to witness it (change). The most widespread idea among them is to change the nation individually. Let’s consider how entrepreneurship can help in nation building.

Entrepreneurship means an organization with visualization of innovation. The youth is very much familiar with the term and thus they want themselves to be called an entrepreneur. The backbone of the nation is its economy. The economy will only develop when it is having sufficient entrepreneurs who are efficient and effective. Thus it’s high time that the youth should be accepted as the entrepreneurs. Youth is keen to take part in bringing out the change through their innovative brains. Innovation is the specific tool of the youth through which they achieve something out of the box which conventions does not allow.

India is in high need of potential entrepreneurs and the young population can compensate this vacuum. As the economy needs to be shined by them. The only part left in growth of a nation is polishing. Since the post-independence period the nation has witnessed persistent increment in GDP, HDI and balance of payments has been favorable at times. This increment can further be multiplied with the help of the youths. The empowerment and training of the modern times would help them attain the qualities of an entrepreneur. Certain Entrepreneurship Development Programs (EDP) need to be conducted at the state/national level by the government which develop the potential youths who are willing to be future entrepreneur and to develop skills and train the participants and make them aware about their hidden potential.

Youth Are Innovators

Innovation can most often be seen in the group of 1000 young brains when we ask to offer their thoughts on a certain topic. The youth are subject to dynamic thinking and intuitive decision making which is an important and must trait of an entrepreneur. The ground reality why people fail to become a successful entrepreneur is because of their thinking inside the box whereas youth are mostly think out of the box. Their communication skills, analytical ability, and human relation abilities actually defines them. It’s their ability to make intuitions successful with their hard work. Nation building can only take place with the help of innovators, planners, global thinkers who are dynamic and ready to face the challenges and overcome the constraints and hurdles which block their path.

Entrepreneurship is like a marathon, the more you run persistently and firmly the more are the chances to win gold. Similarly is the case of nation building where you have to be persistent intuitive and challenging which increase the chances of the developed economy. The present world is not constant, it’s dynamic and technically competent and if we will not adopt ourselves accordingly there are chances of failure we will be run over by others.

Youth Are Risk Takers, Not Risk Adverse As Old People

As we know that youth are warm blooded and want to lead. They are challenging and steady in their task and they work hard to achieve them. Motive of these young brains is to contribute towards nation development in terms of economic development. Giving the authority to the youth can accelerate the development in the economy. For substantial change in the nation building these innovators can amalgamate the economy with the developed economy. They are risk takers. Risk taking is one of major qualities which an entrepreneur needs. They are not pessimist rather they are self-reliant and optimistic which helps them in achievement. The nation building mainly depends upon the economic development which in turn depends on entrepreneurs who should be innovators and leaders.

[The author is a commerce student, pursuing graduation from a central university.]

Modern Youth and Health Issues

Dr. Ahmed Siddiqui for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Health is the most precious gift from our creator. Its importance is often realized when disease strikes. In whatever level a disease may be, be it minor or major, it always hurts. Major diseases tend to strike at a later part of our life due to years of poor habits of eating, lack of proper exercise and poor stress management.

Nowadays youth believe that they can do anything they like and nothing will happen. This is just carelessness and pseudo belief. Improper care during adolescence leads to hypertension, diabetes, premature heart attacks, cancer, and gastric problems etc., if not at an early stage then at a later stage of life. The less serious problems become more common even early in life.

A few such problems are loss of hair, dandruff, pimples, constipation, poor skin condition, optical problems, headaches, abdominal pains and so on. There is a saying popular among Muslims: “sehat ko ghaneemat jano bemari se pehle”. The so called modern youth follows a diet which only satisfies the taste buds without little benefit to the body and sometimes actually harmful to the body.

Youth is also nicely termed in Urdu as “jawani diwani” which means that during this period youngster may go crazy if he follows whims and fancies. The present trend of the so-called Arabian restaurants is amusing; serving chunks of meat with lots of carbohydrates without any vegetables. It is just one example of ill balanced diet. Salads and fruits are often ignored these days.

All the more amusing is some youngsters’ new western habits of drinking aerated drinks like Coke and Sprite instead of simple and fresh water, which is a perfect drink ever created. It not only cleans up your system but also improves digestion.

Strange habits acquired in the last few decades are considered very normal including eating chocolates every now and then without a reason. This has added to dental problems among youth. Unfortunately, some of the young boys have got addicted to pan masala, smoking, and power drinks. It is no exaggeration that these are disease producing items that can potentially destroy the overall health of individuals at a time when they should be disease free.

Young men who join multinational companies are exposed to plenty of cash at hand and hence tempted to apply habits, which are very bad for their health. Pub parties and eating in restaurants is a common thing now. It is right time for the youth to realize that an investment in health now will improve their looks, energy levels, and keep them disease free for a long time to come.

Allah gave your body to you in a perfect condition and taking good care of it is mandatory, as it is amanah. The following tips if followed can assure the modern youth a healthy mind and a sound body able to last a lifetime.

  1. Eat a balanced diet including lots of fruits, vegetables and high fiber carbs like roti made of wheat not maida (ex. rumali roti).
  2. Cut down on fatty and sugary items.
  3. Increase consumption of clean water, milk, fresh squeezed fruit juices, and coconut water instead of sodas, power drinks and branded coffees.
  4. Replace sugar with honey and nuts used as a snack.
  5. Eating at home is the best and safest way. If you have to eat out, make it not more than once a fortnight if not monthly.
  6. Stay away from pan masala, power drinks, power foods, smoking and the forbidden drink-Alcohol.
  7. Brush at least twice a day.
  8. Exercise is very important not to build those bulky muscles but for fitness. Girls are no exception as they need strong bones as well.

(The author is an eminent Cardiologist from Hyderabad, Telangana.)

Importance of Seeking Knowledge in Islam

Syed Mujeebuddin Hussaini for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Islam is monotheistic religion that preaches oneness of Allah and its followers are informed of the same through numerous messengers appointed by Allah. The message to every nation was same, and laws alone were different suiting to the understanding of people of that time.

Four revealed books are known to us, while it is not exactly known to us how many were revealed. The Previous revelations and messages set a platform for the final revelation, the greatest of all books, Al Qur’an. A book which can be analyzed by any person in any part of the world, the Qur’an, the guidance and criterion for mankind.

Al Qur’an revealed to the last and final prophet Muhammad (saw) was send to people who would be able to comprehend the message given by Allah, which would stand the test of time and prove itself to be the ultimate source of guidance in every aspect of our lives.

Allah Almighty emphasizes the greatness of the Qur’an and its ability to pierce and soften the hearts of man, when He stated: “Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, you would surely have seen it humbling itself and rending asunder by the fear of Allah. Such are the parables which We put forward to mankind that they may reflect.” [Qur’an 59:21]

If the Qur’an was to descend upon a mountain which could comprehend the message, it would crumble and split asunder by the fear of Allah despite its hardness and strength. Such a powerful Qur’an was revealed by Allah through the angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) upon the heart of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The very first verses revealed by Allah [Glorified and Exalted be He] were: “Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. Has taught man that which he knew not.” [Qur’an 96:1-5]

These very first verses bear witness to the immense importance of knowledge in Islam. These verses were revealed at a time when the majority of the people in Arabia were unlettered (but well-versed in literature). Indeed, Allah has honored mankind through knowledge, and Islam has given much emphasis and motivation to gain and excel in seeking knowledge.

Among the quotes of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) which encourage us to seek knowledge, are the following:

  • “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim” [Ibn Maajah , Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 224)]
  • “The one who treads the path in search of knowledge, Allah would make that path easy, leading to Paradise for him” [Sahih Muslim]
  • “The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness).” [Riyad as-Salihin, The Book of Knowledge, Hadith 1388]

In his commentary of Riyad-us-Saliheen, Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf comments regarding the previous hadith: “Alim (learned person) here means scholar of the Qur’an and Hadith, who adheres to Faraid and Sunnah and remains busy in learning and imparting knowledge…”

Modern Knowledge Disciplines & Islamic Viewpoint

The Qur’an is full of exhortations to learn ‘so that you may become wise’,. The Qur’an encourages man to attain various types of knowledge. Knowledge of physical, chemical, biological, geographical, historical, economical means of sciences, which makes man to travel and ponder over His creation.

As mentioned in the Qur’an: “We shall show them Our Signs in the horizon [external nature] and within themselves, so the Truth becomes clear to themis your Lord not a sufficient Witness over everything?” [41:53]

This knowledge is ‘scientific’ knowledge, for it is based on ‘observation by the ears and the eye’; yet this scientific knowledge is finally to ‘strike the heart’ and to kindle a perception in man which will transform his scientific and technological skills in accordance with moral perception that will, one hopes, be born in him.

Without this, scientific and technological knowledge could be dangerous, and in its critique of the materially prosperous Makkans, this Qur’an makes this very point: “They know what is apparent of the worldly life, but they, of the Hereafter, are unaware.” [30:7]

Empirical knowledge [or knowledge of modern disciplines] itself is of little benefit unless it awakens the inner perception of man as to his own situation, his responsibilities towards his Creator, his obligations, his risks and his destiny in the Hereafter:

“Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts.” [22:46]

History proves beyond any possibility of doubt that no religion has ever given a stimulus to scientific progress comparable to that of Islam. Muslims have laid foundations to many scientific disciplines, and discovered and invented numerous things in the Golden Age. Notable among those scholars are Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), al-Khwarizmi, al-Biruni, al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Al-Haytham (Alhazen), al-Jahiz, al-Idrisi, Ibn al-Nafis, Hunain ibn Ishaq, Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi etc.

When they excelled in whatever fields they chose, Muslims set best examples for others and had considerable impact. In his speech in Cairo in 2009, US President Barack Obama praised Muslims for their scientific and intellectual contributions to humanity during Golden Age.

He said: “It was Islam that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.” It must be realized that it was the negligence of the Muslims, and their turning away from “ilm” that caused our present decay [in the academic field].

Islam had inspire many to seek knowledge, and it will continue to do for those who follow Islamic teachings. For a Muslim, the first and foremost goal in life is to please Allah (swt) and to live in accordance with His sacred law. Merely studying ought not to be an end in itself or for seeking material gain only; a Muslim ought to excel in his or her study in order to work for humanity.

Muslims need to recall the Golden History of Islam, a cherished asset of the Ummah. Then they must embark on a sacred journey once again to seek knowledge for the sake of humanity, to solve its varied contemporary problems. In this potent endeavor, the Qur’an alone can inspire, motivate, and congratulate them. Embrace it with your heart, and store it in your mind. Wake up, and keep going!

[The author is an Aeronautical Engineer based in Dubai. He promotes contribution of Muslims to science & technology through his “Signs & Science” exhibitions.]

Women and Nation Building

Dr. Thamee Shahid for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

All of us in this world are people who share things, basic needs and wants that define the similarities between us – as humans. We are all expected to perform our duties, deliver and execute, without question. We must ‘blend in’. Work, feed family, pay taxes, etc. And if there is a little more left in you, work for the good of mankind. But this expectation is highly unrealistic in the face of the prejudices that society holds against us.

There is a prejudice that women are the “weaker sex”. Very conveniently the society has defined the role of a woman within the confines of her home, beyond which there is no need of her, and no way in which she can contribute. The crimes against women, especially the way they occur in our country, have served as constant and horrifyingly oft-repeating reminders as to why our roles ought to be limited.

People have now questioned the very reasons why women need to be considered as the equals of men and sought to restrict the freedoms which a girl has the right to enjoy. Her right to education, to earn a respectable livelihood to have her own opinions and views, and to walk in the modern world with her head held high.

As we emerged in this new era of human civilization, we thought that the world would respect women more and give them their rightful place in society but what has happened is that the very existence of women has been threatened. Then again, there are prejudices of all sorts. Almost everyone in this planet is stereotyped against no matter who they are. You don’t really have to be Muslim, or a woman. You could be a Hindu, a Christian, a Sikh, a fair-skinned person, a dark-skinned person, ethnically Asian, European or Latin American, whatever you may be, someone somewhere will have a problem with who you are.

The recent racist attacks on North-eastern students in Delhi are a living proof to this unfair reality. And the problem is that the people in our world are quite comfortable living in these horrors, rather than challenging and destroying these prejudices once and for all.

But the question remains – in the light of these unjust and illogical prejudices that the society holds against us, are we really going to be great contributors to our world? Will our need be recognized as the world we live in grows more and more hungry of aid, help, healthcare, care and concern? How in this present world riddled with Islamophobia and Gender Inequality and Racism, are you and I going to help this planet become a better place to live? Is it even possible? The answer is yes.

The world is quick to criticize, slow to recognize and even slower to appreciate. So if it is the recognition or appreciation we are aiming for then we might as well pack our bags, go home, and never touch this topic again. But if we really wish to contribute then let’s start by being realistic. Problems and pessimism are bound to be hurled our way, constantly.

Let us learn to deal with it. Let us learn to differentiate between criticism and insult, and respond accordingly, debate with critics and ignore those who find the need to insult.

Most importantly never let go of the dream that inspires you to do what you are doing, what you are struggling with to achieve. The dream of a better world.

For instance, Dr Hawa Abdi of Somalia started out with a small clinic in the midst of civil war, and the world stood up and recognized her efforts to contribute to a society plagued by violence and turmoil by providing healthcare.

She was named the Glamour Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” in 2010, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.

If we were to wake up in this moment and decide to channel our efforts and our strengths to make a difference, however small it may be, it will go a long way to help people grow as a community and society that takes care of itself. If we were to target areas such as healthcare, illiteracy, gender inequality etc, our minimal efforts would have lasting effects. All it takes is a desire, a moment where our hearts think not for us, but for others. And that is how prejudices and stereotypes are broken. That’s how illusions are shattered and how awakening and realization dawn on a people. That’s how we should respond to those who try to hold us back because of our differences, not by violence, not by hatred, not by “retaliation in kind”, but by displaying care and concern for our world at large, of whose even the people who dislike us are a part of.

We as a nation, win over hearts by befriending them, and by sharing their pain. That’s how we contribute to nation-building.

[The author is a Doctor, practicing in Shadan Medical College, Hyderabad.]

Significance of Knowledge in the Qur’an

Prof. Mohd. Suleman Siddiqi for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

The purpose of this article is to point out the emphasis the Qur’an places upon the acquisition of knowledge. The Qur’an says: “Are the wise and the ignorant equal ? Truly, none will take head but men of understanding” (39:9)

The Qur’an further says: “Lord increase my knowledge” (20:114) Apart from these two verses there are a large number of verses in the Qur’an which deal with the acquisition of knowledge. For instance 2:31- 33, 60, 102; 3:66, 190-191; 5:91; 10:93; 11:31; 14:38; 17:12; 18:5; 19:43, 65; 29:8; 32:17; 41:47; 45:9, 17, 24; 55: 2 & 4; 76: 2 & 3; 96: 1-5 etc.

I would like to mention two very important sayings of the noble Prophet (PBUH) which relate to the acquisition of knowledge. Prophet Mohammed made the acquisition of knowledge compulsory upon Muslim men and women.

The Noble Prophet further said: “Only those will inherit the legacy of the Prophet who acquire knowledge”. The Qur’an condemns superstition and encourages scientific thinking to appreciate the existence of God, Who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Creator and Sustainer.

The Qur’an repeatedly invokes the power of observation, the capacity of man to think, reflect and rationalize the existence of God. The Muslims realize the existing of God without any iota of doubt regarding the Oneness of God and the Prophet hood of Muhammad, through worship, fast, pilgrimage and charity.

We can also observe the existence of God in the flow of air, rivers, change in seasons, flight of the birds, and by observing the plant and animal kingdom. We do these because man has been blessed by intellect unlike the animals. We are therefore the best of this creation and are called Ashraf al-Makhluqat. We are required to apply our mind, intellect and rationality.

It is God who directed us to acquire knowledge, educate & empower ourselves, and explore this world. Therefore, God says: “What all I have placed on this earth is for us to explore”. The final word is Islam being a rational religion, the key to success is the knowledge of this world and the hereafter.

The Qur’an upholds that knowledge which leads to comprehension, investigation and invention – a quality by which the ignorant are made wise. For the Muslim Ummah the progress, the regulation of life is indispensable, but regulation cannot come without reason, which is synonyms with knowledge.

The Abbasid Age is known as the Golden Era of Islam. I am looking forward to that golden era. The future of Islam and Muslims is in your hands.

[The author is the Former Vice Chancellor of Osmania University (OU), Hyderabad. He also served OU as the Dean of Dept. of Islamic Studies.] 

Youth Following Machiavelli?

Saba Hussain for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Machiavelli, the first political thinker of the 16th century is responsible, apart from few other political scientists, for separating politics from religion and morals. More popularly, his political philosophy promotes the concept of “might is right” as true and justified concept of the modern political system. He refused to consider the excellence of the moral virtues as superior to the political virtue.

According to Machiavelli, every possible means should be acquired in order to maintain and retain power. In his book “The Prince” he thoroughly condemned the moral principles and advised the prince (political authority) to practice every possible means for the consolidation of power and expansion of the dominion.

In his own words, “Let a prince, therefore, aim at conquering and maintaining the state, and the means will always be judged honorable and praised by everyone, for the vulgar is always taken by appearances and issue of the event; and the world consists only of the vulgar, and the few who are not vulgar are isolated when the many have a rallying point in the prince.”

Obviously, in Machiavelli’s political system moral judgment, religious precepts or ethical considerations are frankly subordinated to exigencies of the political interests. If the safety of the country is at stake, one should not consider what is just or merciful, every cruel means should be taken to save the life, power and independence of the country.

He advised the government not to keep promises that concern public interest and will always be without a shame be broken in order to maintain their power. Not only this, he also inculcated the feeling of mistrust and bluff in the mind and the heart of the ruler by playing with their religious and moral values in order to influence people for the sake of his own interests by shrewdness and a calculating ruthlessness can the individual hope to cope with his environment and satisfy his appetite and instinct.

If we introspect the condition of today’s youth we find that acceptance of muscle power as paramount element in politics is common which resembles the “might is right” concept of Machiavelli’s concept. Yet it does not sound justified to accept that all of youth are following the Machiavelli’s thought.

We are aware that India is a nation of religion and ethics. Since times immemorial its politics revolves around religion and ethics is considered important element. Indian youth have been inculcated from the childhood about the ethics and religion. Thus, it appears unsound to reach to the point that majority are following Machiavelli’s concept. But other side of the story cannot be ignored when it comes to organized youth forum actively involving in politics.

The two biggest political wings of youth particularly the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) are found to involve in violent activities as well as searching for muscle power. More or less we have witnessed these organizations shedding ethics for the sake of power. Therefore, it is difficult time for the youth to stand against the Machiavelli’s political thought that does not belong to the traditions of east rather it stands as an imperialist tool of the west. Indian youth must stand to support ethics as prime element in politics for nation building.

[The author is a student of M.A. (Political Science) at Aligarh Muslim University.]

Excellence in Sports Participation

Ehtesham Ali Khan for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Usually when one writes articles such as these the tendency is to keep saying we should do this, we should do that and so on. However, an alternate way to put things together is to convey benefits and I think that makes more sense than the former style. This write up is articulated in such fashion.

Let’s dedicate few lines to emphasize role of sports in current economic times. It’s more than a 500 billion dollar plus industry and growing .So what does it do promote sports for advantageous purposes, which is by creating platform for expression of energy in meaningful ways with returns in the form of awards, recognition, respect, acknowledgement of talent , creation of jobs etc.

In all this, where does Muslim participation and contribution stand? A closer look at micro level exposes reality in ways we do not want to see and wish we could change things around. Our youngsters standing on day to day basis in front of girls colleges dressed up to catch attention or at movie theatres with late night parties etc. and in addition to this armed with money power at hand due to parents working in gulf countries, there is more freedom and ways to spend time and money.

A total lack of direction at young age when it matters and later we seem to be paying our way through professional courses and move on into global markets then comes the struggle to make ends meet at home or abroad. Could be sheer waste of talent when there lays the potential.

Why is participating in sports so meaningless to such a vast chunk of Muslim population? Is it lack of will or day to day survival to make ends meet that they find beyond reach to get into this lane that becomes too unaffordable for many or too many?

So lethargic that after late night or weekend activities they simply do not have will to get up early morning and go through the grind on day to day basis. There could be so many pros and cons in vast population and food for thought for those who want to enable so much for many aspiring youngsters who simply do not know how to navigate.

To be concise and direct I believe it’s a two way effort. Encouragement to participate, identify potential, Psychological consultation and development procedure initiation .This is one side of the coin: Communication strategy. The other side is the receptor and needs to understand and respond. If this situation can be rolled out I believe we have something to look forward to. We may look forward to seeing more of Hashim Amla , Azharuddin , Muhammed Ali, etc.

At grass root level motivation to both parents and children to look forward to a meaningful activity rather than phobia of losing out on academics and at youth level competitive attitude for a goal oriented activity. This is what we desire and rather than say our youth have lost direction we need to find ways to give them the same (take ownership), monitor, make corrections, set bench marks and bring about improvements for a satisfactory contribution to the society.

(The writer is a former Ranji Cricket player who played as a wicket keeper from Hyderabad.)

Youth and Depression Management

Prof. Amber Haque for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Youth is a time for aspirations, dreams, and fantasies. It is a time when healthy young people are generally carefree and sometimes very confident. They may even be ready to conquer the world! But there are youth who slip into the other extreme, a condition called depression.

Studies in the US show that on any given day about 8% youth suffer from major depression meaning that they need medical attention for their condition and there are 28% who report depressive feelings. We don’t have such statistics for developing countries so it’s hard to predict the percentage of depression among youth in countries like India. If a scientific study is done, one may be surprised at the sheer numbers of youth being depressed or utterly unhappy with their life.

In this short article, we will discuss three questions about depression in the youth:
a)    What are the signs of depression?
b)    What causes depression in the youth?
c)    What are the treatments for depression?

Let’s first differentiate between sadness and depression because sadness is not depression. Sadness in fact, is normal. It’s okay to be sad because of the loss of a close relative or having failed in an important exam. One can cry when sad but the feelings of sadness go away after the tears stop. However, if sadness continues for sometimes, like weeks or months, it may be turning into depression.

The symptoms of depression are having a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, loss of interest in almost all activities nearly every day, significant loss of weight or gain in weight, inability to sleep or excessive sleep nearly every day, being restless or tired nearly every day, feeling hopeless or having inappropriate guilt, difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions, and repeated thoughts of death or taking one’s life.  If five or more of these signs are present continuously for at least two weeks, one may be diagnosed as having a major depression.

A milder form of depression is called dysthymic disorder when a person experiences depressed mood and other symptoms that are not severe enough to be called major depression but are present for a longer period of time. A person with dysthymic disorder is able function normally but has a sad demeanor and shows signs of tiredness and lack of concentration.

The causes of depression are many but here are the main ones: biological or hereditary—or as they say, it “runs in the family”; psychological, like repetitive negative thoughts, low self-esteem, a sense of fear and guilt and being unable to cope with such stressors, and environmental, like pressures from school, family, or peer group or when bullied and harassed by others.

This leads us to the third question: is depression treatable? The answer is yes. There are two main ways of treating depression: by psychotherapy or talking cure and pharmacotherapy or medication. Family psycho-education is also an important way to deal with youth depression because family can play an important role in the proper upbringing and molding of children. Treatment depends on the causes and one should leave it to the professionals to determine the actual cause of depression. The good news is that depression results mostly from non-biological causes and can be treated without medication.

Psychologists use Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) to treat depression. CBT is directed primarily towards changing negative thought patterns that contribute to depression and IPT focuses on improving patient’s self-concept and relationships with significant others.

Some parents may get overly concerned about depression in their children and go see the psychiatrist for consultation. Psychiatrists or medical doctors usually prescribe medication. If this happens, one should get a second opinion because medications have side effects and especially those that act on the brain. In the US, Fluoxetine (Prozac) is the only Government approved medication for children 8 and above.

Doctors may give other drugs but the patient or the family should always ask about the risks of taking medication and this should be the last resort. Medication not only brings negative side effects but the patient runs the risk of developing dependence and tolerance leading to higher doses in the long run. Medication becomes necessary only when biological reasons are determined. Studies also show that a combination of medication and psychotherapy will bring better results.

In this “Information Age” the best strategy to overcome problems is to be informed from professional sources. It is even more important in cases related to mental health as untreated depression not only ruins one’s every day functioning and relationships but can lead to risk of suicide. We want our youth to remain happy and healthy because healthy youth make a healthy nation!

(The writer is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at UAE University in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi.)