Doha 24 April 2022: Mental health and wellbeing is one of the seven population priorities of the National Health Strategy 2018-2022 which aims to improve access, reduce stigma and integrate physical and mental health care. The National Mental Health Helpline, launched in April 2020, has been instrumental in responding to a demand for easier access to confidential mental health support. The team of professionals at the Helpline has managed over 46,000 calls since opening.
The Helpline has four support streams, offering help to parents with children, adults, and older adults and there is a specific stream for healthcare professionals. The free and confidential service has become the primary access point to mental health care and treatment in Qatar.
Dr. Majid Al Abdulla, Chairman of Psychiatry at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Medical Director of HMC’s Mental Health Service, explained that the primary aim of the Helpline is to provide easy access to professional support: “People in every country in the world can face difficulty in dealing with stress, anxiety, trauma or grief. It can be very difficult to seek help because of the stigma surrounding mental health. We set up the Helpline in Qatar to make it easy to access confidential and professional help, guiding callers to treatment if necessary. Early and easy access to the right help, can prevent problems from getting worse and may reduce the need for longer term care and treatment.”
“Confidence in the helpline is growing and patient satisfaction is high. The vast majority of people have described their experience of using the Helpline as good or very good. You can contact a healthcare professional without giving personal information or sharing health card details. We can provide fast and confidential access to support without the stigma and fear often associated with our services,” added Dr. Al Abdulla.
Mr. Iain Tulley, National Health Strategy Lead for Mental Health and CEO of HMC’s Mental Health Service, expressed his appreciation for all those involved in the Helpline. “This was a collaborative effort and would not have been possible without the strong support and advocacy of HE Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health. The helpline has become the preferred route of access to our service and is used by both men and women of all nationalities.”
“The team is doing a great job and, despite growing demand and increasing complexity in cases, the service continues to respond and is making a huge contribution to the health and wellbeing of the population in Qatar,” added Mr. Tulley.
Ms. Katja Warwick-Smith, Assistant Executive Director of Clinical Service Development and Head of the Helpline said that the team consists of international, multi-lingual and inter-professional staff to reflect the diversity of callers. “These are mental health experts and include nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists who are able to converse in several languages: Arabic, English, Tagalog, Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam. Patients have told us they find it easier to engage and express themselves in their native language.”
The free Helpline is accessed by calling 16000, selecting Arabic or English and then by selecting option 4 for the Mental Health Helpline; all calls are treated in the strictest confidence.