Mental Health Services in Qatar

Mental Health Services in Qatar By Josephine Justin - October 10, 2023
Mental Health Services in Qatar

Mental Health in Qatar

Addressing Stigma and Expanding Access

Mental health is a vital aspect of overall well-being, yet it remains a taboo subject in many societies, including Qatar. With one in five people in Qatar experiencing mental health challenges, addressing this issue has become a priority for the Qatari government. In this article, we explore the state of mental health in Qatar, available services, and resources, as well as initiatives aimed at reducing stigma and improving access to care.

Challenges of Mental Health Stigma:

In Qatar as well as in other Asian countries, mental health disorders, ranging from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are often stigmatized. A 2020 study revealed that there is insufficient education about mental illness, its causes, and symptoms, leading to further stigmatization.

Government Initiatives

Recognizing the need to combat stigma and raise awareness, the Qatari government has prioritized mental health. Initiatives by Hamad Medical include the "Are You OK?" campaign - a collaborative effort involving multiple organizations and the Ministry of Public Health. This campaign encourages open discussions about mental health and provides resources and information.

Available Mental Health Services:

1. Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC): The primary provider of mental health services in Qatar, HMC offers a range of services, including outpatient and inpatient care, crisis intervention, and rehabilitation programs.

2. Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC): PHCC collaborates with HMC to provide accessible mental healthcare for various age groups, from children to senior citizens, with a focus on non-urgent, mild to moderate mental health challenges.

3. Private Clinics: Qatar also offers private clinics, such as Sidra Medicine, which provide specialized care for children and adolescents.

4. Non-Profit Organizations: Weyak (Mental Health Friends Association) offers free in-person, online, and telephone counseling. The International Medical Centre, Dr. Aju's Clinic, and Al Ahli Hospital are other prominent options for mental health support.

5. Sidra Medicine: This state-of-the-art children's and women's hospital in Doha has a dedicated Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service that provides assessment, therapy, and support for young individuals facing mental health challenges.

6. Al Wakra Hospital: Located in the city of Al Wakra, this facility offers mental health services, including psychiatric care, counseling, and support groups.

7. Private Clinics and Practitioners: Qatar also boasts a growing number of private clinics and mental health practitioners who offer a range of services, from counseling to specialized therapy.

Accessing Mental Health Services:

Accessing public mental healthcare in Qatar is relatively straightforward. Referrals to HMC services can be obtained through primary healthcare providers, counselors, or other health professionals, with appointments typically available within two weeks. PHCC offers non-urgent services without requiring a referral. Private clinics and independent services are accessible through direct contact with the providers.

Emergency Support and Crisis Lines:

In cases of mental health crises, individuals can call the national emergency number 999 or visit the nearest hospital. Additionally, the National Mental Health Helpline at 16000 offers a supportive resource for those seeking immediate assistance.

Insurance for Mental Healthcare:

Qatari citizens and residents can apply for a health card to access discounted mental health services at HMC facilities. Private insurance is also an option, often provided by employers, with major providers including Allianz Care and Cigna Global.

Professionals in the Mental Health Field:

Qatar offers a range of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists. These professionals are licensed by the Department of Health Professions (DHP) and may also register with the Middle East Psychological Association (MEPA).

Specialized Services:

Mental healthcare in Qatar is tailored to various demographics. This includes support for severe mental health problems, children and young people's mental healthcare, and services for special groups. Facilities such as Naufar address substance abuse, while Sidra Medicine focuses on adolescent health. Additionally, organizations like Mind Institute provide services for those with special needs and disabilities.

Prevention and Education Programs:

The Qatari government actively promotes mental health awareness through digital platforms like the "Your Mind Matters" portal and social media campaigns. The "Are You OK?" campaign, in collaboration with various organizations and the Ministry of Public Health, contributes to reducing stigma and improving access to services.

Mental health in Qatar is receiving increasing attention, with the government, healthcare institutions, and organizations working together to reduce stigma and expand access to services. By fostering open conversations, improving education, and providing a range of mental health resources, Qatar is taking significant steps towards a more mentally healthy society.

By Josephine Justin - October 10, 2023

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