Mental health and well-being is one of the priority areas in the Qatar Public Health Strategy 2017-2022, with the main focus of encouraging people to speak openly about mental health and to seek help as early as possible.
The mental health objectives of the Public Health Strategy have been designed to complement and build on the National Mental Health Strategy, which was launched in 2013 with the vision – “Good mental health and well-being for the people of Qatar, supported by integrated mental health services with access to the right care, at the right time, in the right place”.
“Being healthy does not just mean looking after our physical health; it is just as important to take care of our mind,” the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said in a statement yesterday. “When we feel good in both mind and body, we feel happier, more positive and are able to enjoy our lives fully”.
The World Health Organisation global estimates suggest that mental health disorders affect more than one in four people in the course of their lives and about one in 10 adults at any one time – the most common disorders being depression and anxiety. Globally, the total number of people with depression and anxiety is estimated to exceed 300mn.
In Qatar, the estimated prevalence (2015) for depression is approximately 5.1% and for anxiety 4.2% of the population, the statement notes.
The levels of mental health awareness in Qatar are relatively low and many misconceptions exist around the causes of mental health conditions and the capabilities of people with a mental illness, the MoPH points out.
“Due to the low levels of awareness, mental illness is very often misunderstood and is frequently surrounded by negative attitudes. This creates stigma and can cause individuals and their families to suffer in silence, preventing them from seeking the necessary help they may need. The impact on family relationships and community life can also be greatly affected. We, therefore, need to encourage a positive, open dialogue about mental health issues in Qatar and drive forward major change in people’s attitudes,” said Susan Clelland, acting executive director of the National Mental Health Programme.
Providing people with positive messages about mental illness and raising people’s awareness through education and information is critical to supporting a better understanding of mental illness and reducing its impact. Raising public awareness about mental health will dispel misconceptions and encourage positive attitudes about mental health.
Raising awareness is important for the whole community but particularly important for those that are most likely to come into contact with people experiencing mental health issues.
The health sector in Qatar provides trained professionals, services and support for mental health. Whether a person is experiencing symptoms for the first time, has had repeated episodes or needs additional support for a diagnosed condition – help is available and seeking support early ensures the greatest chance of recovery. For mild to moderate conditions, the first step is to access the mental health services offered by trained family physicians in Primary Health Care Centres across Qatar.
To make an appointment at the designated primary health centre, one call Hayyak at 107, which is available 24/7.
A consultation survey for receiving the public’s view on priorities for the Public Health Strategy 2017-2022 has been launched. The survey and the current strategy can be found at http://phs.moph.gov.qa
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