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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Mental health awareness ‘significantly increases’ in Qatar, survey shows

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The survey is the largest representative collection of data of its kind in Qatar.

Qatar’s population has seen a notable increase in awareness of mental health, according to the Qatar National Mental Health Attitudes and Awareness Survey 2020, released by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday.

The survey, the third carried out by the ministry, is the largest representative of its kind in the country, involving data from 1,100 citizens and residents of Qatar aged between 16-to-64.

“The 2020 Qatar National Mental Health Attitudes and Awareness Survey plays an important role in monitoring the progress of the public health sector in achieving its strategic objectives and provides a diagnostic tool which tracks the effectiveness of mental health promotion and prevention initiatives across four key measures,” said Dr. Mohammed Al Thani, Director of Public Health Department at the MoPH.

While the complete findings of the survey will only be available later this year, the initial results show a significant increase in the level of awareness and understanding of mental health and well-being in the community.

In 2018, half of the adults surveyed (52%) claimed to be ‘moderately’ to ‘highly aware’ of mental health, compared to three-quarters of adults (77%) in 2020.

Read also: Why we should add ‘trauma’ to our vocabulary in the Arab world

“The findings from the survey provide valuable insights into awareness, knowledge, and practice of mental health and well-being in the community. The understanding we gain through the survey will help us to develop better and more effective health services and communications and to enhance wellbeing, happiness, and overall health for the residents of Qatar,” added Dr. Al Thani.

The survey also highlighted how stigma and discrimination continue to be social issues that affect the entire local community, noting the rise in awareness does indicate a “positive shift” towards acceptance for people suffering from mental illnesses.

“MoPH and its healthcare partners have made significant progress in raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing in the community in recent years. Providing people with positive messages about mental illness and raising people’s awareness through education and information is supporting a better understanding of mental illness and reducing its impact,” said Susan Clelland, Acting Executive Director, National Mental Health Program who was the Advisor on the Survey.

Qatar has been stepping up its efforts to raise awareness about mental health in recent years.

Recently, Sidra Medicine, a Qatar Foundation entity, partnered with the MoPH in its national mental health and wellness campaign ‘Are you ok’ to promote support services available for women, children and young people in Qatar.

“One of the most important things we can do to improve mental health in Qatar is to keep highlighting this important topic and raising awareness so that people become more comfortable talking about it. This is why we recently launched a campaign under the theme ‘Are you OK?’ to encourage people to talk more openly about their emotional wellbeing,” said Clelland.

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