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Promoting Mental Health and Well-being: A Key Priority for the Health Sector 

Publication Date:
10 April 2019
Primary News

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.

There is a rising incidence of people experiencing Mental Health issues across the world. According to the World Health Organization, 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.

The negative attitudes and stigma often associated with mental illness, makes many patients reluctant to seek treatment and support when symptoms arise, this can result in more severe symptoms later on and can have a negative impact on educational, social, and economic success.

 “Mental health is as critical as physical health in maintaining our wellbeing. There is no health without mental health. 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 & Wellbeing. 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. This will be done through raising public awareness, encouraging people to talk about their feelings and educating them to identify and avoid risk factors and protect themselves and their loved ones from mental illness, as well as encouraging them to seek the appropriate help and support when required,” said Mr. Iain Tulley, National Lead for the ‘Mental Health and Well-being’ NHS 2018-2022 priority population. 

Key stakeholders from across the Qatar health sector including the Ministry of Public Health, Hamad Medical Corporation, Primary HealthCare Corporation and Naufar, worked collaboratively to develop a robust plan for this priority population. 

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 programs on children’s 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.

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.

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