Mental Health – We Cannot Ignore It Anymore

Mental Health – We Cannot Ignore It Anymore

The mental health practice in Arab countries has become complex and important considering the existing scenario in the nation.The issues related to mental health is of high importance for all the age groups in the United Arab Emirates (WHO – Health Statistics).

Lack of awareness

The first issue to be taken into the consideration is the lack of awareness regarding mental health problems. There exist negative attitudes toward formal mental health services and also under-utilization of the available services due to the stigma attached to the disease condition. Since last few years, higher rates of mental health problems and psychiatric diagnoses have been found. It is also very critical to understand that women in Arab/Muslim countries are at paramount risk from mental health problems (1)
Studies revealed that marital status and age were found to be significant predictors of a positive attitude towards seeking help. Help-seeking process provides crucial links between the beginning of mental health troubles and the provision of professional care (2). Among the elderly United Arab Emirates (UAE) population; the prevalence, nature and socio-demographic factors are correlated to a mental health condition. In a study conducted in the elderly population, the commonest diagnostic entities were depression (20.2%), anxiety (5.6%), hypochondriasis (4.4%) and organic, mostly cognitive impairment with or without dementia (3.6%) (3).

Factors of Mental Illness

The prevalence of psychiatric morbidity in the Arab region is comparable to that found in other parts of the world. Researchers indicate that women, in particular, are definitely at a greater risk of developing various disorders associated with mental health. It is important to take into consideration the cultural and contextual factors related to mental illness as well as potential risk factors. Mentally ill women are more stigmatized, have less access to care and go through from an inferior social outcome (4).A series of culture-related risk factors such as education, work, sexuality, marriage, and infertility; significantly contribute to prompt mental disorders in females or to worsen their course and outcome (5).

Mental Illness in the UAE

The Federal Government, Health Authority Abu Dhabi and Dubai Health Authority govern the mental health in the UAE. To bring about a positive change in the area of mental health, there should be attempts to close the gap between the needs and the services available. Future research, intervention and activism are needed in the field of mental health systems to improve awareness of related problems. Health providers should play a critical role by addressing the cultural as well as psychological conditions that create and maintain threats to women’s mental health and overall implications for professional service delivery.
1. Al-Krenawi, Alean. “Mental health practice in Arab countries.” Current Opinion in Psychiatry 18.5 (2005): 560-564.
2. Al-Krenawi, Alean, et al. “Cross-national study of attitudes towards seeking professional help: Jordan, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Arabs in Israel.” International journal of social psychiatry 50.2 (2004): 102-114.
3. Ghubash, Rafia, et al. “Profile of mental disorders among the elderly United Arab Emirates population: sociodemographic correlates.” International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 19.4 (2004): 344-351.
4. Hamdan, Aisha. “Mental health needs of Arab women.” Health care for women international 30.7 (2009): 593-611.
5. Douki, S., et al. “Women’s mental health in the Muslim world: Cultural, religious, and social issues.” Journal of affective disorders 102.1 (2007): 177-189.
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