Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Muaither Complex 2 is supporting the parents of children affected by mental health conditions and changing how mental health is viewed in the community.
CAMHS, part of HMC’s Mental Health Service, officially opened its Muaither Complex 2 in April, and is providing much needed mental health care to young patients up to the age of 18. Presently, the Muaither Complex 2 receives between 20 and 35 referrals a week and caters to over 1,000 patients each month.
One young patient who is benefiting from the expanded outpatient services is Maria (not her real name), who was born five years ago without any known mental health condition. Maria ate normally not until last July she began refusing to swallow solid food.
After seeking medical attention, Maria was diagnosed with a form of mental illness called food anxiety. Food anxiety is a complex eating disorder that can have severe physical and emotional consequences if left untreated.
Dr May Jassim Al Muraisi said:
An eating disorder is present when a person experiences severe disturbances in their eating behavior, such as an extreme reduction of food intake or extreme overeating. Eating disorders commonly co-occur with anxiety disorders. For those who have an anxiety disorder, a co-occurring eating disorder may make their symptoms worse and recovery more difficult. It’s therefore essential to treat both disorders.’
In recent years HMC has made significant expansions to its child and adolescent mental health service through the development of a community-based outpatient and daycare programme. Inpatient services for children and young people who require more intensive treatment have also been expanded.
According to Maria’s parents, James and Rosa (not their real names), her problem began with a sore throat that prevented Maria from eating properly for a few days. Once her throat recovered, she continued to be afraid to eat; fearing the pain associated with swallowing would return.
It is not that if you put something in her mouth that she would spit it out, she won’t even try to taste it. She was afraid to eat. We tried everything. We tried to force her but to no luck. We even tried leaving her alone, thinking she was just being a picky eater. Nothing we did would work.’
The couple explained:
We got a referral to CAMHS and were lucky to get an early appointment. Later Maria’s case was diagnosed as food anxiety.’
James described the care Maria received at CAMHS as very professional, said:
We met Dr Al Muaisi, who looked after us very well and showed a good understanding of Maria’s problem. She recommended we follow a reward system for two weeks to motivate her to eat. Under the system, we could reward her with points for the food she was able to swallow. We found that this really worked well.’
We can now see that there is progress because our little girl is eating and trying to swallow food. She has tried burger, pasta and soup.’
Dr Al Muaisi said:
Maria’s case is just one of the complex mental health cases affecting young children that we receive here on a daily basis. It is a good thing that the parents realised there was a problem and they sought medical assistance. Here at CAMHS, we always strive to provide our patients with the safest, most compassionate and most effective care. We also recognise the importance of ensuring the confidentiality of their medical condition to prevent any stigmatisation or incorrect perceptions within the community.’
Access to HMC’s community-based mental health services for children and adolescents is by referral from a Primary Health Care Corporation centre, private clinic, or a HMC service, such as the Paediatric Department at Hamad General Hospital or the Mental Health Service. CAMHS operates routine clinics all days of the week, except Wednesday. The service’s users include children with varying types of mental health disorders and conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder as well as other psychological and physiological problems.
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