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One in Five Qataris Needs Mental Health Assistance

A Qatar Mental Health survey shows 1 in 5 Qataris suffering from a mental ailment, commonly depression or schizophrenia, with fewer than 1 in 4 of those afflicted receiving treatment, due to fears of social stigma . . . from the Gulf Times, Qatar.

By Noimot Olayiwola/Staff Reporter

A Mental Health Strategy, which is awaiting the endorsement of the Supreme Council of Health’s executive committee, is expected to be completed this year.

It is being envisaged that the Mental Health Strategy will lead to a reduction in the incidence and severity of mental illness in Qatar, besides increasing the proportion of people with emerging or established mental illness who are able to access the right care at the right time, with a focus on early intervention.

The strategy will also provide the opportunity to increase the ability of people with mental illness to participate in education, employment and training, enhance public education and awareness and thereby reduce the stigma associated with mental ailment, reduce the prevalence of risk factors that contribute to the onset of mental illness and prevent longer-term recovery, and establish Qatar as a centre of academic excellence in mental health research and education.

Speaking on the strategy at an event held recently, Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) General Adult Psychiatry senior consultant and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar assistant professor Dr Suhaila Ghuloum said the mental health initiative contributes to the Human Development pillar of Qatar National Vision 2030, which recognises that a healthy mind is as important as a healthy body.

She said a study has shown that around 20% of the country’s population suffers from a form of mental disorder and less than 25% of the people with mental ailments actually receive the care that they need.

Stating that the actual prevalence rate of mental health ailments would soon be published, Dr Ghuloum added that around 20% and 18% of the population also suffered from depression and anxiety disorder, respectively.

The Psychiatry Department is the only facility providing primary, secondary and tertiary care for people with mental illness in Qatar. “We conducted the study on adult patients visiting the primary healthcare centres and found that one in five people here will experience a mental disorder with conditions such as schizophrenia and depression on top of the list,” she said.

According to her, schizophrenia, depression and substance abuse are three of the top five causes of disabilities in Qatar. “A condition like schizophrenia can prevent a child from attending school,” she said.

Dr Ghuloum said social stigma, which is a combination of ignorance and discrimination, is the biggest challenge facing people with mental illness in Qatar.

“Through interaction with some of our patients, we realised that many had delayed getting medical help due to fear of stigma and the negative attitudes of some of the patients themselves, their family members as well as physicians,” she noted.

The official called for comprehensive care for people with mental illness, saying the Psychiatry Department has already started a system that is all encompassing and comprehensive – through primary care – besides providing treatment for some patients on an in-patient basis, who are co-located in general hospitals, as well as community-based services being offered to those in need of long-term care.

“The transformation of Qatar’s mental health services focuses on early intervention and recovery, and will give people a range of options on how to access mental healthcare tailored to their needs. Whether it is in a primary care, community-based or a hospital setting, people with mental health issues will have access to the right care, at the right time and in the right place,” she asserted.

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June 12, 2013 - Posted by | Bureaucracy, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, Doha, Family Issues, Health Issues, Qatar, Social Issues, Statistics

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