As part of Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) commitment to fulfilling the objectives of the Qatar National Mental Health Strategy, the healthcare provider has introduced a new integrated psychiatric service for adult patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Down syndrome, and intellectual disabilities.
Under the new programme, specialised mental health services are being provided to patients with intellectual disabilities as part of their ongoing medical care.
Dr Mohamed Eltahir, senior consultant psychiatrist, said HMC’s Mental Health Service runs a number of specialised clinics that address the needs of children and adult patients. “The integrated clinics, which are thought to be the first of their kind in the region, make the service more accessible to adults with intellectual disabilities, enhancing good care outcomes, and patient experience.”
He added, “Many individuals with behavioural disorders and intellectual disabilities have complex mental health needs and could encounter barriers, including environmental factors, which prevent timely access to appropriate mental health support. The new integrated service aims to provide more accessible community-based care to these patients through delivering comprehensive psychological, social, and rehabilitative care.”
The psychiatrist said that caring for an individual with an intellectual disability or mental disorder requires a co-ordinated approach across multiple service sectors. “A strong emphasis on family and caregiver
involvement is also required.”
The first phase of the new integrated psychiatric structure involved liaison with services for children and included collaboration across a number of organisations such as the Child Development Centre at Rumailah Hospital, The Shafallah Center, Sidra Medicine, and a number of other private providers.
“Adjusting services to better meet the needs of patients with intellectual disabilities will not only improve existing services but will also result in the development of new high-quality mental health services. It will allow us to play a more proactive role in meeting the mental health needs of these patients and potentially to prevent deterioration of their existing condition,” said Dr Eltahir.
He said providing specialist intervention and support to a person who is experiencing early symptoms of mental illness is not only critical to preventing or reducing the progress of mental illness, but also for improving the patient’s overall health and quality of life.
“We have made great strides in developing more integrated psychiatric services for patients under the age of 18 with intellectual disabilities and have now begun providing specialized clinics for our adult patients. As part of the new service, a weekly integrated clinic has been introduced at the Enaya Continuing Care Center 2 in Muaither and clinics are being offered through the Home Healthcare Service. Two weekly dedicated clinics have also been added to HMC’s psychiatry hospital and there are plans to add additional clinics,” added Dr Eltahir.
The National Mental Health Strategy is an important part of the National Health Strategy, which emphasises the importance of meeting the needs of existing and future generations through an integrated system that aims to achieve better health for all citizens. (QNA)
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