* Amid improvements to ensure access to Mental Health Services

Qatar is marking the World Mental Health Day which is held this year under the theme, 'Make Mental Health and Wellbeing for All a Global Priority'.
In a statement on the occasion, the Ministry of Public Health said that the developments in mental health across Qatar as part the National Health Strategy 2018-2022 demonstrate the ministry's commitment to improve access, reduce stigma and integrate care, resulting in an increase in the uptake of mental health support.
A series of initiatives: integrated mental health clinics in primary care; mental health awareness campaigns to reduce stigma; a national mental health helpline and specialised community-based services have combined to increase access to mental health services for various communities in Qatar.
Dr Salih al-Marri, Assistant Minister for Health Affairs, said: "Qatar's prioritisation of mental health demonstrates the government's ongoing commitment to this important area. In Qatar, this is something we have placed great emphasis on, in recent years. Mental health can affect us all, regardless of age, gender, nationality or socioeconomic status. Providing a range of tailored services free from stigma is essential in improving the physical and mental health of our population."
Dr Majid al-Abdulla, chairman of psychiatry and medical director of the Mental Health Service at HMC, said there is compelling evidence that more people are finding it easier to seek mental health support."Covid-19 exacerbated mental health problems around the world and our population faced similar challenges of heightened anxiety and stress. To improve access to professional mental health support, we established the free National Mental Health Helpline, which provides confidential telephone advice and rapid access to support for those in need."
"This service has been a game-changer in improving access to professional support. Our team of multi-lingual, mental health professionals has dealt with over 56,000 calls and was recently commended and awarded by the World Health Organisation. The ease of access and early support offered can help to prevent an escalation in symptoms and can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, stress and related depression," he added.
The service also offers a dedicated service to women and has assisted over 8,000 women since November in 2021.
The expansion of Mental Health Services across Primary Health Care Corp health centres includes general mental health and wellbeing services, screening support, Integrated Psychiatry Service and Memory and Dementia Clinics.
Dr Samya Ahmad al-Abdulla, Qatar's Deputy National Health Strategy Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing, and Executive Director of Operations at Primary Health Care Corp, said that her experience as a senior consultant family physician, has shown how important it has been to integrate mental health in community healthcare services to allow patients to feel more comfortable seeking help.
"Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood," she said.
"In PHCC, we have Mental Health Services in six health centres, Rawdat Al Khail, Al Thumama, Lebaib, Qatar University and Al Wajbah, where psychologists offer behavioural interventions to support patients with mild to moderate mental health concerns."
The Integrated Psychiatry Service is for patients that have moderate to severe mental health concerns and is provided by HMC consultants in Rawdat Al Khail, Al Thumama, Qatar University and Al Wajbah health centres.
The Memory Clinics and Dementia Services offer specialised services for patients aged 60 and above with signs of cognitive impairment which may indicate mild to moderate dementia," explained Dr al-Abdulla.
Iain Tulley, National Health Strategy Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing and CEO of the Mental Health Service at HMC, explained: "Mental Health is everyone's business. Working together across the health system and with employers and schools across the country, to break down the barriers, tackle stigma and improve access has proved very beneficial to many people in all sections of society." He went on to say supporting the mental health of craft and manual workers, in partnership with the Supreme Committee of Legacy & Delivery, providing free access to local services, has been instrumental in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of this workforce.
The next big step in mental health and wellbeing is the launch of an awareness programme across schools to support students, teachers and parents in recognising and managing the challenges of mental health.
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