As part of the implementation of the National Health Strategy (NHS) 2018-2022, the Ministry of Public Health has set out a plan to promote mental health and well-being and improve access to mental health services, with a national target that ensures that 40% of services are offered in the primary and community settings by 2022.
The plan, which is already in its implementation phase, focuses on increasing awareness about mental health with the aim of reducing stigma. This will be achieved through conducting national surveys on mental health attitudes and awareness, delivering training programmes on children mental health for families, health professionals, and education providers, as well as developing educational and public awareness drug prevention campaigns.
In addition, the plan aims to improve access to integrated mental health services in primary and community settings, which are free from the stigma often associated with psychiatric facilities, with the aim of enabling people to access services in mainstream health facilities.
“There is much to do to change attitudes and ensure that the negative views of mental illness are replaced by a much greater understanding about the importance of mental health and well-being. There is a major challenge in breaking down the stigma that is often associated with mental health and our National Health Strategy has started to tackle this,” said Iain Tulley, national lead for the Mental Health and Wellbeing NHS 2018-2022 priority population.
There is a rising incidence of people experiencing mental health issues across the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in four people will suffer from some kind of mental illness at some point in their lives. In Qatar, a recent study of visitors to Primary Health Care Centers, showed that the percentage adults who suffered from at least one type of mental disorder is in line with the
international percentage.
Key stakeholders from across the Qatar health sector, including the Ministry of Public Health, Hamad Medical Corporation, Primary HealthCare Corporation and Naufar, worked together to develop a robust plan for this priority population.
Work is underway to implement the Mental Health Law, which was enacted in 2016. The law safeguards the rights of people with mental illness and those of their family and will be overseen by an independent authority that will monitor the implementation of the law. Relevant training will be provided to the health sector professionals to enable and ensure consistency and compliance in service provision to achieve better outcomes for those accessing mental health services.
A further priority is to better understand the prevalence of mental health conditions within Qatar to ensure that services can be developed and tailored to the needs of the different
population groups.
The NHS 2018-2022 is one of eight different sector strategies, under the National Development Strategy 2018-2022, which aim to deliver the Qatar National Vision 2030 of “Improving the health of Qatar’s population, through an integrated healthcare system, managed according to world-class standards, designed to meet the needs of existing and future generations.”
The strategy was launched under the theme ‘Our Health, Our Future’, and reflects a global shift in thinking by taking a population health approach. It identifies seven priority population groups and five priority areas for system wide focus.
HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari appointed 12 National Health Strategy Leads to lead the planning and implementation for the 12 Strategy priorities. (QNA)