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Posted On: 19 April 2020 09:37 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 09:11 am

Helpline provides accessible mental health support amidst COVID-19 pandemic

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The Mental Health Service of Hamad Medical Corporation has launched a helpline to provide support for people experiencing stress or psychological distress, as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Working with the Ministry of Public Health and the Primary Healthcare Corporation this is a national initiative that will support all sections of the community.

The helpline is staffed by experienced mental health professionals who can provide assessment and support to callers through four main categories: Children and Young People (and parents), Adults, Older People, and Frontline Healthcare Workers.

“The situation we are facing is unprecedented. The emergence of COVID-19 here in Qatar has forced us to completely change many aspects of how we live our lives and with this change comes uncertainty,’’ said Mr. Mahmoud Saleh Al-Raisi, Chair of the National Taskforce for Mental Health and Wellbeing and HMC’s Chief of Continuing Care Group.

“Many people are understandably worried by the current situation and may feel frightened, confused, anxious, or low. It is important that people understand that these feelings are normal and that there is help available for them. This mental health helpline aims to provide an easily-accessible support line for people in need of professional advice and care,’’ added Mr. Al Raisi.

To access the helpline, which is available from 7 am to 10 pm every day, members of the public can call the toll free number, 16000. The helpline is confidential and users can remain anonymous, avoiding the stigma often associated with mental health.

The professional staff taking calls at the helpline speak a range of languages and every effort will be made to enable callers to communicate in their language of choice. Staff will make an initial assessment of need, may offer brief support or refer for more specialist help when this is required. An appointment can be made on the line and a tele-consultation can be arranged with a suitable clinician.

Dr. Majid Al Abdulla, Chairman of the Mental Health Service at HMC, who was instrumental in establishing the helpline said: “COVID-19 is having a significant impact on our lives and this can be a major cause of stress and anxiety for many people. Staying at home, self-isolating or spending time in quarantine will hugely affect the way we feel. Many people may be feeling more stressed or anxious than normal and our helpline is designed to provide the help and support many people are asking for.’’

“This is a specialist and comprehensive helpline which can offer assessment, diagnosis, brief intervention including CBT and can assist with prescribing and medications issues. It is staffed by highly trained and qualified clinicians from across the health system,” added Dr. Al Abdulla

Dr. May Muraisi, Executive Director of Clinical Development and Head of Psychology in HMC has put together a team of psychologists for the helpline. “During this period our mood will be affected and feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, and depression are very common, our staff will work to help people to recognize the signs of stress and anxiety and will provide coping strategies which can reduce the impact of these.”

Dr. Samya, Ahmad Al Abdulla, Deputy National Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Executive Director of Operations at PHCC, explained that even in normal circumstances, many people will struggle with psychological distress and asking for help.

“Often the stigma associated with mental health can prevent us from seeking help. This confidential helpline is a welcome initiative and it will serve patients from across all of our communities - this is very important particularly during this difficult period.”

Source: Hamad Medical Corporation