Dr Hamad Al Ghafri, NRC’s director-general (L) with Patrick Moody, British Ambassador to the UAE, on the sidelines of the workshop at NRC in Abu Dhabi on Monday Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) in Abu Dhabi will soon develop forensic psychiatry services, it announced on Monday.

The project will be realised in collaboration with several local entities, and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, a leading psychiatry treatment and research centre in the UK.

As part of the project, the NRC on Monday hosted a workshop at its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, with the attendance of Patrick Moody, British Ambassador to the UAE. The workshop highlighted the various aspects of forensic psychiatry services, including assessment, treatment and support services for individuals with mental disorders that are associated with repeated criminal behaviour.

Participants during the workshop at NRC in Abu Dhabi on Monday
Participants during the workshop at NRC in Abu Dhabi on Monday Image Credit: Supplied

Need for service

Aimed at introducing relevant entities to the project, the workshop outlined its progress, and the action plan for implementing the next phases to entities dealing with the cases of psychological disorders as part of their daily work, or organisations offering criminal justice and related medical services. In addition, the session highlighted the role of various stakeholders in granting data access for the project team in order to ensure that the action plan fulfils Abu Dhabi’s specific requirements.

Who are the services for?

Forensic psychiatry services are provided to people who have committed misdemeanours, who have mental disorders that require treatment in psychiatric facilities, individuals suffering from mental illnesses, and those accused of violence and sexual crimes.

The services are also available to individuals acquitted due to their inability to appear before court due to mental illness, prisoners suffering from mental illness, mentally ill patients with a history of criminal behaviour, and mentally ill high-risk serious offenders who have either been released from penal and correctional facilities, or are patients admitted to mental hospitals.

Collective responsibility

Dr Hamad Al Ghafri, NRC’s director-general, said: “In line with NRC’s priority to improve the mental health of community, this meeting is an initial step towards providing forensic psychiatric services in Abu Dhabi. It will help our partners set out a clear and feasible plan to offer forensic services to those in urgent need, in compliance with international standards.”

He added: “At NRC, we aim to develop an array of services to better meet the needs of society, in line with the latest scientific approaches in the treatment of drug addiction. After years of international studies and clinical experiences, we know that acute mental illness can lead to violence, and in many instances to tragic crimes that result in dire consequences not only for the offenders, but also for their families and the entire society.

“It is our collective responsibility to come up with solutions that make a real difference in our society. Community awareness is the key. Today, our commitment is not limited to supporting the government’s medium and long-term visions, but also to catering to the needs of the Emirati society, through supporting projects that can bring about a positive change in people’s lives.”

Forensic services

Upon completion, the project will allow relevant organisations to benefit from the expertise of psychiatry specialists and provide “best-in-class” forensic psychiatric services in Abu Dhabi.

According to several scientific studies, acute mental disorder may cause the person to commit crimes, as studies involving patients suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and other major mental disorders have revealed an increase in their criminal behaviour, which often arises as a result of mental disorders.

Project phases

The project involves three phases, beginning with data collection to analyse the need for forensic psychiatry services in Abu Dhabi. Based on the data collected, the service delivery plan, the care model and the required specifications will be determined. In phase three, a strategic study including a strategic framework for psychiatric services in Abu Dhabi will be developed.

The workshop drew the participation of several high-level officials and experts from relevant government entities, including the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the General Headquarters of the UAE Armed Forces, Abu Dhabi Police General Headquarters, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Community Legal Awareness Centre, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, Zayed Military Hospital, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, and Al Ain Hospital.