Mental health
The network of community mental health clinics for Al Amal Psychiatric Hospital will operate from primary health care centres. Image Credit: For illustrative purposes only

Dubai: As the UAE marks World Mental Health Day today, Emirates Health Services (EHS) has launched an innovative initiative to develop distinguished community mental health services, creating a network of community mental health clinics for Al Amal Psychiatric Hospital in primary health care centres.

In addition to providing comprehensive psychological services near the patient’s residence, the network of clinics will deliver training courses to workers in community psychological services as well as home psychological care teams and will educate patients and their families through specialised programmes, to integrate them into society and empower them socially, psychologically and professionally.

The initiative also aims to keep pace with the global trend of integrating mental health services into primary health care, and providing ambulatory and remote psychological care.

EHS has developed a systematic plan to implement the initiative by developing a service policy to ensure safety, privacy and quality in accordance with international best practices.

EHS said it will spare no effort to provide necessary infrastructure and resources to carry out the initiative and will hold training workshops, activate multiple clinics across several primary health care centres in Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and other northern emirates.

EHS revealed that the total number of home visits paid to patients from Dubai and northern emirates was 2,480 between 2018 and 2020, including 160 visits by crisis intervention teams in cooperation with competent authorities. Meanwhile, the number of psychological consultations made through the helpline service from April 2020 until the end of last August reached 4,682.

“We are very keen to develop comprehensive and integrated mental health services that can perfectly meet the needs of the local community of all categories and ages. This comes as part of the establishment’s ongoing efforts to support the National Policy for the Promotion of Mental Health in the UAE,” said Dr Yousif Mohammed Al Serkal, Director-General of the Emirates Health Services.

“We will do whatever it takes to safeguard the rights of individuals suffering from mental illnesses, strengthen prevention programs and early detection of mental disorders, develop a comprehensive statistical database on mental health, and build local and global partnerships to rehabilitate and support mental patients,” Al Serkal added.

Dr Noor Al Muhairi, Director of Mental Health Department, stressed that the EHS has made substantial efforts over the recent years to develop, strengthen and expand mental health services.

“In addition to implementing a program to integrate mental health services in primary health care centres, the establishment has been relentlessly working to prevent and combative the most prevalent mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, by adopting healthy lifestyles, providing early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, and promoting awareness in the community about mental health disorders,” Al Muhairi said.

Dr Amna Turki Al Ali, Director of Al Amal Hospital, highlighted the importance of community mental health, promotional, curative and rehabilitative services, to achieve social and psychological empowerment and provide a supportive and stimulating environment for patients.

Dr Amna spoke about some of the mental health services provided by Al Amal Hospital, including home treatment teams, relapse prevention programs for chronic mental conditions, a mobile crisis intervention team, a daycare centre for psychosocial and professional rehabilitation programmes for chronic cases of inpatients and outpatients in addition to the psychological counselling helpline “talk to be heard.