The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) along with Qatar's leading healthcare providers, has launched a public awareness campaign to educate the public about mental health and to remove the stigma associated with mental health conditions.
The MoPH is collaborating with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), Sidra Medicine, and Naufar for the campaign, which begins on 10 October, World Mental Health Day.
Chair of the National Taskforce for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Chief of the Continuing Care Group at HMC, Mahmoud Saleh Al Raisi, explained that raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing is of enormous importance and is one of the seven priority areas outlined in Qatar's National Health Strategy.
He added in a press statement on Tuesday that "Across the world, increasingly, more is being done to raise awareness of mental health issues. In Qatar we want to go further as recent research suggests that one in five people in Qatar will be affected by a mental illness at any given point in time,".
Dr Samya Ahmad Al Abdulla, Deputy National Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Executive Director of Operations, PHCC, explained that mental health is about the way we think, feel, and behave and our ability to manage everyday situations. "We all experience feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness, and most of the time these feelings pass quickly, but for some people, these feelings persist and negatively impact their quality of life," stated Dr Al Abdulla.
One of the main challenges for people with mental illness is the stigma associated with it. This stigma often makes it difficult for people experiencing mental health symptoms to talk openly and to seek help.
"This is why the campaign is being run under the theme 'It's OK not to be OK', sending a clear message that mental health issues are very common and not something to be ashamed of. Mental health affects us all and the more comfortable we are talking about it, the easier it will be for people to ask for help," said Dr. Al Abdulla.
"It is important that people understand the potential severity of mental illness. Just because the outward symptoms of conditions such as depression and anxiety can go unseen, we must not underestimate the impact they can have on the individual. Mental health and physical health should not be thought of as separate. They are often directly linked; physical illness can increase a person's risk of developing mental illness and, similarly, mental illness can negatively impact on physical health," stated Dr Majid Al Abdulla, Chair of the Mental Health Service at HMC.
Qatar National Health Strategy 2018-2022 Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing and CEO of HMC's Mental Health Service, Iain Tulley, underlined the importance of focusing on mental health for Qatar and said: "The launch of this campaign emphasizes the priority that is being given to mental health across the health system and the country. We will continue to work with healthcare partners and other organizations across Qatar to raise the profile of mental health and wellbeing and to promote an environment where mental health is talked about as openly as physical health,".
The campaign will run throughout October and November and include messaging via newspapers, TV, radio, and social media, as well as several events for both the community and healthcare workers.
The campaign's first community event takes place inside the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) this weekend, Friday, 11 October and Saturday, 12 October. Staff from mental health teams across the healthcare system will be offering advice and education on mental health issues to the public. Visitors to MIA will also be able to take part in the Wheel of Wellbeing activities. These six activities provide a fun and interactive way to get people thinking about some of the things they can do to help improve their mood, reduce the risk of depression, and strengthen relationships.
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