Awards of Merit
HMC Community Services: Transforming Mental Health Care in Qatar
Over the past four decades, the provision of mental health services in Qatar is centralized in the HMC Department of Psychiatry. This facility is located in central Doha but is outside the HMC campus. It includes male and female inpatient units, and outpatient clinics.
There has been an increasing demand on the HMC’s psychiatric services over the past 15 years. This significant demand has led to an intractable bed crisis and overcrowded inpatient wards, which unfortunately contributed to the stigma surrounding psychiatric services.
Furthermore, inpatient care was the prevailing care model at the time with little emphasis on rehabilitation and patient re-integration into society. This led to prolonged hospital stays in many cases and to "revolving-door patients" in other cases. This model of care was not sustainable because of cost implications, as inpatient care is the most expensive element of any health system.
The above challenges have led to continuous efforts by health policy makers in Qatar trying to transform the mental health services. These efforts culminated in the government document: Qatar National Mental Health Strategy (2013) which has put forward a very ambitious plan for the provision of community-based mental health services in Qatar, moving away from the old institutional-based model of care.