Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, formally launched Qatar’s first Guide to Mental Health Services during the 8th Qatar International Psychiatry and Mental Health Conference on Thursday, 5 December.
The Guide has been developed by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in partnership with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), Sidra Medicine, and Naufar with the aim of making it easier for people to access mental health services in Qatar and helping them choose the right service for their needs.
Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari explained that the provision of mental health services has expanded in recent years.
“Qatar’s healthcare sector has undergone enormous growth throughout this decade and the expansion of mental health services has been an important part of this transformation. Qatar’s health system now offers a wide range of mental health services and it is vitally important that people understand how to access these services and can choose the right service for their individual needs. The launch of the new Guide provides a clear and concise resource for mental health services in Qatar,’’ explained Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari.
The publication of the Guide to Mental Health Services follows the launch last year by the MoPH of the three guides to healthcare services in Qatar, one each for children, adults, and the elderly. The Guides explain everything people need to know about accessing general healthcare services in Qatar.
Mr. Mahmoud Saleh Al Raisi, Chair of the National Taskforce for Mental Health and Well-being and HMC’s Chief of the Continuing Care Group, highlighted the importance of making people aware of how to seek help if they are struggling with mental health issues.
“The World Health Organization states that 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. One of the main challenges is the associated stigma, which often makes it difficult for people to talk openly and seek help. For this reason, it is essential that we make people aware of the services available to them and that they understand how to access these services,’’ stated Mr. Al Raisi.
Mr. Iain Tulley, Qatar National Health Strategy 2018-2022 Lead for Mental Health and Well-being and CEO of HMC’s Mental Health Service, said the launch of the Guide highlights the system-wide approach to mental health services in Qatar.
“The delivery of high-quality mental health services in Qatar is a result of joint working between healthcare organizations. As is evident within the Guide, HMC, PHCC, Sidra, and Naufar all play an important role in ensuring people struggling with mental health issues can receive the support they require,” said Mr. Tulley.
A major focus of the recent expansion of mental health services in Qatar has been to deliver more services in the primary care setting, as Dr. Samya Ahmad Al Abdulla, Deputy National Lead for Mental Health and Well-being and Executive Director of Operations PHCC, explained: “In the past few years we have worked hard to expand the mental health services delivered at our primary health centers. We now operate five mental health support clinics and three integrated psychiatry clinics in primary health centers in Qatar, which enable people seeking help to easily access the care they require without needing to attend a specialist psychiatric facility. As the PHCC’s services are not focused on any specific health conditions, the stigma associated with seeking mental healthcare is reduced, making it more acceptable and accessible for our patients and their families.”
The mental health services provided to women, children, and young adults in Qatar by Sidra Medicine are also detailed in the healthcare guides. “Since opening our first outpatient clinics in 2016, and our inpatient hospital in 2018, Sidra Medicine has expanded the range of mental health services it provides. Our dedicated and highly skilled team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurses provide state-of-the-art mental healthcare for children and adolescents. We also offer comprehensive perinatal mental healthcare services for pregnant and postpartum women, a program which we consider one of the first of its kind in the region. We are delighted to have played our part in the development of this Guide, which we hope will greatly benefit Qatar’s residents when it comes to accessing mental healthcare services,” explained Professor Muhammad Waqar Azeem, Inaugural Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, Sidra Medicine
The most recent mental health facility to open in Qatar, Naufar, focuses on well-being with a particular emphasis on helping individuals overcome addiction and substance use disorders.
“At Naufar, we assist people of all ages to overcome addiction by motivating them and helping them to achieve a healthier, more productive, and happier life. We aim to make Naufar a place where patients and their families can get help, and a place where patients can take back control of their lives,” stated Dr. Khalifa Jeham Al Kuwari, Assistant Director General, Naufar.
The 8th Qatar International Psychiatry and Mental Health Conference was held under the theme ‘Integrating Physical and Mental Health’, and attracted more than 800 delegates from different disciplines and organizations across Qatar and the world, making it the largest and most established educational event for psychiatry and mental health in the region.