imaz-athar

Imaz Athar

Imaz Athar is a senior undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, double majoring in Neuroscience and Sociology. He aspires to become a physician and plans on attending medical school in Fall 2017. Imaz fell in love with the art of writing at a young age and is currently the Publisher of Pitt's undergraduate-run science magazine The Pitt Pulse. When he's not writing or keeping up with classes, Imaz enjoys running, playing basketball, watching Empire, singing (in the shower), and listening to all kinds of music.

Mental Health Stigma in the Muslim Community

  Mental health in the Muslim community has recently become an even more pressing issue. As I explained in a previous article, Islamophobic attitudes, previously dormant in the minds of many, have become active—Islamophobic voices have become louder. Discrimination, in its overt and subtle forms, has a negative impact on the mental health of Muslim-Americans. This claim has been backed by research. For example, a study by the Boston University School of Medicine found that the daily harassment that some Muslims face “can increase their risk of common mental disorders,” such as anxiety and depression.   Islamophobia is just one part of the mental health discussion in the Muslim community. While outer societal forces, such as Islamophobia, can affect Muslim-Americans’ mental health, stigma—a force within the Muslim community—also greatly impacts mental health. The American Muslim Health Professionals have recognized mental health literacy as the number one public health concern within the Muslim-American community, and that stigma is a big reason behind it. Stigma prevents many Muslim-Americans from discussing their mental health issues with others, and even accessing mental health resources. In some cases, stigma may potentially make mental health issues worse, or even prevent individuals from realizing their issues to begin with.   Stigma within the Muslim-American community is rooted in culture and religion, just like many other forms of stigma. As explained in journal article “Mental Health Stigma...

If Kanye West Was Your Doctor…

“I see this is your first time seeing Dr. West,” the nurse said after checking my height and weight. “Yeah, it is, actually,” I said as we started to walk down the hallway towards the examination room. “Dr. West is fantastic—you’re gonna love him! One of the best doctors we have in the hospital,” the nurse said. “I mean…” Suddenly, her toothy smile vanished, her mouth became a straight line, and her bright eyes gave way to an empty gaze. She slowly turned her neck to look at me. “…Dr. West’s the best of all time.” “Oh…well that’s a relief, I guess,” I said with a chuckle, trying to break the eery, awkward tension that now filled the tight hallway. “Alright, here we are!” she said—her cheery expression returned, as if it hadn’t left. She opened the door, and there he was. Sitting on the medical bed, black sunglasses over his eyes, headphones on his ears, Kanye West was movin’ to his music. It were as if the sonic charge from his laptop made its way through this headphones, and into his body, causing him to groove along in rhythm with the beat of whatever he was listening to. Source   “Dr. West…your patient is here,” the nurse said, raising her voice, but also kinda quiet because deep down she didn’t wanna disturb Kanye. “Dr. West,” she said again. Still no response....

Islamophobia and the Mental Health of Muslim-Americans

  It has become all too clear that Islamophobia is more than a buzzword, but a widespread discriminatory ideology that sees no difference between Muslim and terrorist. Turn on the news, and you’ll see a widely-known, pompous presidential candidate proposing a ban on Muslims, including those escaping violence and political unrest, from entering the country — to make America great again, of course. Turn to another channel, and you’ll see a political correspondent interviewing Americans who vow their support for this ‘much-needed’ proposal. Turn the channel again, and you’ll see that this presidential candidate is leading his opponents by a landslide in the latest polls. Turn the channel one last time, and you’ll see a Muslim woman kicked out of the presidential candidate’s rally after silently protesting Islamophobia.   Like many forms of discrimination, Islamophobia is embedded in our society’s most prominent institutions, including the government and media. Muslim-Americans have undergone intense racial profiling by government agencies, such as the NSA, while the New York Police Department surveilled mosques as “terrorism enterprise investigations” after being pressured by the Justice Department. Popular news outlets have also shared Islamophobic attitudes — Bill O’Reilly once exclaimed “Muslims killed us on 9/11”, failing to differentiate between Muslims and terrorists. The views of these large institutions — government and media — are diffusible, easily consumed by the unsuspecting and fulfilling the starving ignorance of...

Ask The Brain: Should I Use This Study Aid?

I am your brain. Yup, that’s me, the three pound chunk of tissue floating inside your skull. I hold all of your darkest thoughts and your deepest secrets (don’t worry, I won’t tell), and I control almost all of your movements. Right now, I’m talking to you through this computer screen. Or, wait, aren’t you technically talking to yourself? Whatever. Right now, I’m making your eyes move so that they look at the letters on the screen, quickly processing each word, and talking to other parts of myself so that everything you’re reading makes sense. Make sense?   I’m pretty complex, and I do a lot for you, so that life seems nice and easy. But, I’m also pretty sensitive — I can only do so much without being taken care of once in awhile! Let’s take finals week, for example. I know, it’s a tough time for you with an exam everyday but, trust me, it’s a tough time for me too. The endless memorization and the sleepless nights take a huge toll on me. And don’t get me started on all the caffeine! Too much of that stuff makes me crazy.   I get it though. You need all those study aids — whether it’s caffeine, music, or even prescription drugs — to get through tough exam weeks. But, too much of anything can be bad. Let me...

It’s Always Sunny in December: How Can We Prevent Climate Change?

Global warming. A phenomenon that explains dramatic changes in what was previously thought to be out of human control: our climate. We have spent so many centuries utilizing the earth’s resources, and it’s often difficult to realize that our seemingly simple actions can have such a grand impact on an abstract world that’s so, so much bigger than us. Who knew that what we use to drive our cars and power our homes could also contribute to changes in temperatures and weather patterns, destruction of habitats, food insecurity, and the extinction of species.   It seems outlandish, hard to accept. To Al Gore, it was an inconvenient truth. Gore’s in-depth documentary on climate change illuminated how we — humans — are direct contributors to drastic, detrimental environmental change. But then again, maybe climate change is part of Earth’s ‘natural’ cycle, spinning on its own accord, humans far from behind the wheel. Or maybe global warming is as illusory as aliens — why is it a sunny 60 degrees on a Thanksgiving day in Pennsylvania? Oh, it’s gotta be that “global warming”, we jokingly say with air quotes as we look up at the vast, blue sky.   Despite our natural inclination to separate ourselves from Earth’s patterns, the fact of the matter is that our impact on climate change is real. Scientific research has provided an overwhelming amount of...

10 Tips for Pre-Med Students

You enter college bright-eyed, free from the shackles of high school cliques, and excited to explore yourself and everything your new world has to offer. However, the seemingly endless opportunity that college provides is daunting — how are you supposed to fit so many experiences into four short years? What makes this even more intimidating is that on top of wanting to make memories you’ll try to impress your kids with one day, you also have to spend time in class and carve out a path to your future profession.   I’m a senior now, and it feels like yesterday when I stepped on campus for the first time as a freshman pre-med. Like most pre-meds, I was happy to be in college, but also nervous as hell about the amount of work I would have to do over the next four years to get ready for medical school. To make matters worse, pre-meds don’t necessarily start off in the most encouraging conditions. I remember sitting in a room packed with freshmen pre-meds during an advising session early in my first semester. Our advisor went over literally everything we had to do as pre-meds: get extremely good grades, join a research lab and try to get published, log countless volunteer hours at a hospital, shadow physicians, get an internship and, oh, don’t forget to make yourself stand out! At one...

Tales from the Clinic: What It Means to Be a Doctor

  I wanted to become a doctor because I wanted to be a superhero.   As a kid, I was inspired by the unparalleled heroism and comedic genius of Captain Underpants. After reading tales of Captain Underpants using his superpowers to single-handedly eliminate all of society’s evils (talking toilets, giant dandelions, zombies), I was convinced — his was the path that I needed to follow in life. Soon, I realized that, as tempting as it sounds, it wouldn’t be an acceptable career choice for me to run around and fight crime in only my underwear…even if I had a cool cape.   So, I looked at my other options. I didn’t have to look far to realize that the path that I really wanted to follow wasn’t Captain Underpants’. It was my dad’s. At the time, we were living in a small town in New Mexico. The town lacked luxury, but it had the essentials: a school, market, and a clinic. My dad was a physician at the clinic and, to me, it seemed that everyone looked up to him. In many ways, he was the town celebrity. Everyone knew his name, stopped to say hello and chat. Even my friends knew him as ‘the doctor’.   I didn’t fully realize my dad’s impact on the community until we heard a knock on our door one evening. We answered it,...