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Mental illness on rise, doctor warns

'Number of people with mental health issues and depression is increasing'

Gulf News

Dubai: A doctor has warned the number of people with mental health issues and depression is increasing. In addition to the stress of working long hours, expatriates make up much of the private sector workforce and many are away from home and lack family support.

"There are no certain causes as to what sets off depression," Dr Mona Al Kuwari, director of primary health care at the Ministry of Health said.

She said many people feel lonely away from home and that sets off anxiety and other symptoms. She advises that people should be aware of any behavioural changes in their friends or relatives.

"Early treatment is better as the person can be cured quicker," she said.

However, she said, there are not enough trained mental health professionals.

"Trained psychologists or psychiatrists would be able to detect any mental problems among patients coming to the primary health care [PHC] centres, she said.

"People are more comfortable seeking help at PHCs than at mental health hospitals," she told Gulf News. The Indian embassy and consulate recently set up a unit to provide counselling after a number of people committed suicide because of family or money issues.

The director said 700 health professionals had been trained in various workshops which focused on patients with mental health issues. She said such patients are "filtered' out at the PHCs and referred to Al Amal Psychiatric Hospital in Dubai.