Call to establish Qatar centre for the mentally challenged

September 18, 2011

A national vocational centre should be set up in Qatar to help in the rehabilitation process of mentally ill patients and to prevent a relapse, a leading psychiatrist said.

“There are still no vocational centres in the country where the mentally ill can be referred to after receiving treatments from our department,” Dr Suhaila Guloum, psychiatry department chairperson, said.

Vocational skills

“Such centres should be run nationally to provide patients with the some vocational skills that will be useful for themselves and the country as well,” she said, quoted by Qatari daily Gulf Times.

The inadequate provision for the rehabilitation of mentally ill patients often leads to a relapse, especially when they are not accepted back into the society, she said.

“Community services available in the country to reintegrate these patients back into the society are limited and so when we discharge them, they tend to relapse in the absence of a gainful activity,” she said.

“We have been asking for the establishment of vocational training centres across the country, especially for the mentally ill patients, where they can receive training to acquire skills in any vocation they show interest in rather than being idle after leaving the hospital.”

Jobs policy

A policy of ‘sheltered jobs’ for the mentally ill should be launched.

According to the psychiatrist, many of the patients, who have undergone treatment or psychotherapy, have the ability to work for a few hours every day and “an opportunity to contribute to the society will give them self-esteem and a sense of belonging.”

“There should be a place only for patients with mental health because they have special needs, such as the sheltered jobs where patients can work under supervision and not left on their own. It should be some kind of part-time employment that will suit their needs,” she said.

However, the psychiatrist said the level of acceptance of people with mental disabilities has improved tremendously in the country.


“Usually, some families have problems with people having mental problems, especially the elderly suffering from dementia as they hide them at home due to its psychological symptoms such as memory loss, poor concentration, screaming and aimless wondering. But now, people are accepting that is okay to lose one’s memory and have all those symptoms as signs of old age,” she said.

She added that people are now coping with some of their loved ones being psychotic, having fear of poisoning or harm and being susceptible to fall and sustaining severe injuries.

Community services

Plans are ready to expand services at the psychiatry department, especially its community services, she said.

“A majority of our patients live in Doha and the frequency of community visits by our medical team depends on the severity of their problems. Our team could visit them once or twice a week or a month. We intend to improve on this,” she said.

Dr Hind Al Rifai, Senior Consultant, Psychiatry Department, Hamad Medical Corporation, said that the stigma attached to mental illness in the Qatari society was keeping many away from seeking medical and social help.

“The disorder is extremely frequent and it is the most common one seen in practice,” she said. “We frequently see it and we can assess that 15 to 20 percent of the population, here, during their lifetime will have some type of anxiety disorder. So both psychiatrists and other medical doctors will see a lot of these problems,” she said.


However, in Qatar a majority of those suffering from the problem do not seek consultation.

“We can say that our patient population does not accurately represent the gravity of the anxiety problem we have here,” Al Rifai told reporters on the sidelines of Psychiatry Department open house on anxiety disorders.

People reluctant to consult for anxiety issues go to the doctor only when it becomes severely uncontrollable.

“So far, the majority of the cases come to us when they are too difficult to be handled. In general in this part of the world people are not comfortable to come and say that they have issues with anxiety,” she said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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