By Aney Mathew
Depression and anxiety have become common terms today, and feeling kind of down-and-out, or overly stressed and anxious, are regulars for many. Beyond mood swings and short-lived emotional responses to the challenges of life, there are those who experience sadness, loneliness, fear, nervousness or anxiety daily, or nearly daily, for no apparent reason – to the point of not being able to carry on with normal everyday life.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is an illness that affects more than 300 million people world-wide and is the leading cause of disability globally. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. The number of people suffering from depression and anxiety are rising at a rapid pace. It’s important therefore that these conditions are no more just spoken about in hushed tones, but accepted as conditions that need to be addressed openly without shame or stigma. It’s critical for those going through these conditions to know they do not have to suffer in silence and, above all, it’s important to note they can be effectively treated.
Like anywhere else in the world there are individuals in Qatar too who suffer from depression, anxiety, isolation, and mental illness. Again, like anywhere else shame, social stigma, and lack of awareness are among the leading factors that prevent most people from seeking help.
Weyak: Providing mental health services in Qatar
This is where the role of organizations like Weyak becomes crucial. A non-profit association known as The Mental Health Friends Association, ‘Weyak’ is a local Doha-based organization specifically established to help those suffering from various forms of mental illness in Qatar. Besides providing free counselling services to anyone seeking help, through online and telephone counselling, Weyak ensures their privacy is protected, as callers are not required to identify themselves.
The organization also strives to raise awareness in the community on the importance of good mental health, through various programs that encourage people to make lifestyle changes. It also seeks to promote a positive outlook while persuading individuals to look beyond their limitations and circumstances.
Speaking on the role of the organization, Mohamed Al Binali, Executive Director of Weyak says: “Research has shown that 1 out of every 3 or 4 individuals suffer from some form of mental illness, the world over. Qatar too has its fair share of affected individuals. The situation cannot be ignored; if neglected, it will cause the breakdown of the family and thus the entire society, eventually leading to greater repercussions and costs, to both families and the government medical agencies.
“Among the many problems that we help people deal with in Qatar, anxiety and depression rank the highest. At Weyak we take a multi-pronged approach in working towards spreading awareness within the society on matters of mental health, while helping reduce stigma. We publish information on the subject regularly, screen relevant films, conduct lectures and workshops, and also advocate our cause through social media. In addition, we encourage people to seek help rather than hide from mental illness.”
The most important point to note is that officials at Weyak say their services have helped save the lives of people with suicidal tendencies. When people wish to avail of the online counselling service offered by Weyak, they can use their phone-in service or post their question on the website; these questions and problems are then reviewed and answered by qualified specialists. The assistance offered is not limited to those suffering from the illness but is also extended to the caregivers of those affected by the condition.
For more details, go to www.weyak.qa.
If you’re reading this and you’re the caregiver of a family member suffering from depression, mood disorder, or anxiety, do bear in mind your role is crucial. You can help them manage their struggles as you’ll most likely be the first one to notice mood disorders, thus being the first one to intervene and offer help. While handling this challenging task, it’s important that you look after yourself as well.
Tips for caregivers:
· Accept what you’re experiencing is stressful and be careful not to take on too much
· Don’t blame yourself for your loved one’s suffering
· Be aware of your own emotional state
· Don’t neglect your own well-being in the process of caring for the person of concern
· Follow a healthy, stress-reducing lifestyle (e.g., exercise)
· Develop a strong network for social and emotional support; seek help from friends and family
· Educate yourself on the subject
· Set realistic goals
· Don’t use substances to cope (e.g., alcohol)
Do you or someone you know struggle with depression, anxiety, or another formof mental illness? Share and reach out to us in the comments below to let us know about your experience accessing mental health care services here in Qatar.
There are a different place where you can get help from anxiety and depression. Please click here to read.
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