Doha, 03 June 2023: Last weekend saw the staging of the Qatar’s 9th International Mental Health Conference at The Sheraton Hotel Doha. Over 1000 delegates attended this 3-day event in person or online. The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), working in collaboration Primary Health Care Corporation in Qatar and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, brought together over 50 local, regional and international speakers, combining topics of mental health and wellbeing with innovations in treatment and Psychiatry.
Dr. Majid Al Abdulla, Chairman of Psychiatry, Medical Director of the Mental Health Service at HMC, and Conference Chairman, said he was delighted with the broad range of delegates that registered for the conference “This event was an ambitious attempt to combine the science of medicine with the importance of wellbeing and mental health promotion. The theme of the conference “Transforming Mental Health for All” attracted people from the many aspects of Mental Health today”. Dr Majid went on to say: “The array of international speakers, colleagues from the region, our own staff and local partner organizations, combined with members of the public, delegates from industry and wellbeing specialists provided a rich and engaging conference for all.”
In his opening address at the opening ceremony, as well as welcoming guests and delegates, Dr. Majid stressed the importance of raising public awareness of mental health and continuing to improve access to evidence-based treatments, a subject that was continually highlighted throughout the three-day event. The co-chairs of the conference were Dr. Zerak Al-Salihy, Senior Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist, and Ms. Katja Anneli Warwick Smith, Assistant Executive Director for Mental Health Services and Operational Lead for the National Mental Health Helpline. The opening ceremony was moderated by Sheikha Dr. Haya Abdulla Althani, a medical resident currently doing her psychiatry rotation at the Mental Health Service. She, along with other resident doctors, was very active in the organization of the conference.
The inclusion and promotion of physical and mental health and the inclusion of wellbeing activities were promoted throughout the conference, with many delegates participating in sessions advising on techniques to relieve stress or promote stretching and wellbeing. Ms. Susan Clelland Director of the National Mental Health Program at MOPH said: “Embracing a wellbeing approach helps to promote mental health and raises public awareness in addition to reducing the stigma surrounding Mental Health. Wellbeing specialists working with colleagues from HMC and engaging delegates was a welcomed initiative that complemented the traditional educational lectures”.
The scientific stream of the conference brought many experts who worked with local clinical leaders to share and update on areas of contemporary and innovative practice. The conference committees were overwhelmed by the level of interest to present at the conference, and the feedback from participants has been highly positive.
Mr. Iain Tulley, CEO of the Mental Health Service at HMC and National Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing said that this event demonstrated the importance of partnership working and collaboration. “I would like to pay tribute to our local partners, sponsors and colleagues from across the health system for helping to make this event possible, so many delegates were delighted to come together at this conference after the COVID-19 enforced gap. We were therefore delighted to welcome so many representatives from our academic partners, from schools, representatives from Generation Amazing Foundation, Qatar Airways, and the Qatari composer Ms. Dana Al Fardan – this was truly a multi-sectoral group coming together to support our collective goal of promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing for all.”
Dr. Yusra Mushtaq, Senior Clinical Psychologist, and Sheryl Henriques, licensed Clinical Psychologist at Qatar Airways, delivered a compelling presentation on Mental Health awareness and prevention strategies, and prioritizing employee well-being. Dr. Yusra emphasized the Airline’s commitment to staff health and well-being, shining a spotlight on Qatar Airway’s robust focus on mental health and the steadfast support from its GCEO H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker, and the senior executive management team. The Airline’s sponsorship of the conference further demonstrates continuing dedication to promoting mental health and overall wellbeing and acting as an exemplar employer in Qatar.
Dr. Alabdulla said that this event would not have been possible without support from our partners and sponsors and expressed his gratitude to the Platinum Sponsor, Lundbeck, as well as the Bronze Sponsors Janssen; Hikma, Qatar Airways and The View Hospital. Additional exhibitors included Newbridge and Viatris.
The next Mental Health and Wellbeing conference is scheduled to take place in late 2024.