Doha, 17 October 2021: Last week, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office announced that Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), represented by the Mental Health Service, had won an international Health Workers Recognition Award at its regional committee meeting. The award recognizes the untiring efforts and service of healthcare workers throughout this year, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the select group of award winners announced at the committee meeting was Dr. May Al Muraisi, Senior Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at Hamad Medical Corporation, who won the Service Delivery Award.
The EMRO stated that the Service Delivery Award recognized the tireless efforts of Dr. Al Muraisi and the mental health team in addressing the mental health and wellbeing of Qatar’s population during the COVID-19 pandemic by establishing the Mental Health Helpline in a very short space of time. The Mental Health Helpline allows people who may be experiencing stress or anxiety to seek professional mental health support by calling the helpline to speak to a dedicated team of mental health professionals.
Among the key contributors to the development of the helpline were Ms. Katja Warwick-Smith, Assistant Executive Director Clinical Service Development; Mr. Raed Amro, Assistant Executive Director of Mental Health Services: Mr. Shahanaz A Ahmed, Clinical Psychologist and Dr. Shazger Hamad the Clinical Lead for women’s virtual services. All involved parties, from the medical team, nurses, clinical pharmacists and the volunteers were an essential part of this success.
Commenting on the award, Dr. Majid Al Abdulla, Chairman of Psychiatry and Medical Director of the Mental Health Service at HMC, said: “COVID-19 forced us to change many aspects of how we live our lives and caused many people to feel frightened, confused, anxious and low. The launch of the Mental Health Helpline has enabled people experiencing stress and anxiety to gain fast access to professional mental health support. With the helpline having managed more than 37,000 calls to date, it has been one of the most important and valuable services throughout the pandemic and continues to offer people in Qatar much-needed support.”
“I would like to thank the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office for its continued support and for organizing the Health Workers Recognition Awards which are shining a light on the incredible work of healthcare professionals across the region throughout the pandemic,” added Dr. Al Abdulla.
Launched in April 2020 by HMC’s Mental Health Service in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and Primary Health Care Corporation, the helpline is staffed by a team of mental health professionals who can provide assessment and support to callers. The helpline has managed over 37,000 calls since its launch and currently receives 200 to 300 calls a week.
“Within the last three years, the Mental Health Service has developed a great deal, and we have increased our capacity by providing additional beds, becoming easily accessible, with more subspecialty, while embarking on more research and education. Also, telepsychiatry and the helpline have become essential parts of our services,” added Dr. Al Abdulla
“I am honored to receive this award from the WHO EMRO and I am delighted to accept it on behalf of the entire team in the mental health service who have worked tirelessly since the start of the pandemic. We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved by establishing the Mental Health Helpline. Every day, we provide professional advice and support to hundreds of people experiencing emotional distress,” explained Dr. Al Muraisi.
“The reasons for calling vary; the most common complaints are related to anxiety and depression. Sometimes users already have a mental health diagnosis and call for a review or early intervention to prevent deterioration in their mental health, while some call seeking more general advice. By ensuring that callers can maintain their anonymity, the helpline removes any stigma that may be associated with seeking mental health support which is often seen as a barrier preventing people from accessing the support they need,” added. Dr Al Muraisi.