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Health & Safety

Community-Based Mental Healthcare Services at HMC Continue to Expand

Mental health services

The establishment of a new mental health clinic at the Primary Health Care Centre of Qatar Foundation (QF) is an example of ongoing efforts to facilitate easier access to specialist mental health services in the country, says Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Deputy Chair of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Psychiatry Department Dr Majed Al Abdullah.  

HMC’s newly established mental health service at the QF Clinic is providing important psychiatry and mental healthcare to students and employees within the QF campus, and for the past eight months, the clinic has received patients referred by the QF Clinic and other QF affiliates.

Dr Rajeev Kumar, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Head of the HMC mental health service at the QF Clinic, said the new clinic provides mental health services to adult patients (18 to 65 years old). To date, around two hundred patients have benefited from its services since it opened last June.

Most of the patients treated at the clinic are experiencing anxiety, stress and depression. In addition to patient consultations, staff at the mental health clinic are also providing training to the QF Clinic’s frontline staff as part of an initiative to develop their mental health awareness skills.

QF Health Center Director Dr Lamyaa BaniMurad, said the partnership between HMC and QF is in response to the growing need for community-based psychiatry and mental healthcare services. Dr BaniMurad said both groups are committed to increasing access to specialist care.

Due to the stigma sometimes associated with psychological disorders and hospital-based care, some people requiring mental health services go without treatment. This new clinic has brought mental healthcare close to those who need it by providing a psychiatrist within our campus. We have received an extremely positive response from patients, with a satisfaction rate to date of over 95%. We plan to build on this success by opening more clinics of this type in the future.’

HMC is the primary provider of psychiatry services and mental healthcare in Qatar, delivering a range of inpatient and outpatient services for individuals with moderate to severe mental health challenges. HMC currently operates daily mental health clinics at Hamad General Hospital’s Outpatient Department. The clinics, which run Sunday through Thursday, from 7 am to 3 pm, manage non-complex psychiatric cases such as anxiety, stress and depression, as well as cases of abdominal and joint pains associated with psychological disorders. As part of the ongoing service expansion, work is underway to develop mental health clinics at the Qatar Metabolic Institute and Qatar Organ Donation Center.   

Demand for HMC’s mental health services is high and continues to rise, according to Dr Al Abdullah. He said that as part of efforts to improve the support available to patients with moderate to severe mental illness, a number of new specialised mental health clinics will open soon in a number of PHCC Health Centres.

As part of ongoing expansion plans, specialised mental health clinics will be introduced at some PHCC Health Centres. Under this service, HMC and PHCC will work together, with HMC consultants looking into, and managing many psychological disorders without referral to HMC facilities, unless hospitalisation is required.’

Specialist Mental Health Services

According to Dr Samya Al Abdulla, Senior Consultant for Family Medicine and Executive Director of Operations at PHCC, they screened approximately 335,000 adults for depression and anxiety and treated over 8,000 adults for a common mental illness in 2018. Dr Al Abdulla said mental healthcare has been fully integrated into the routine clinical work at all 27 PHCC health centres and that the next phase of service development will see the introduction of HMC mental health services within all specialist PHCC health centres across Qatar.

The inclusion of specialist mental health services within PHCC’s regional health centres will support the national milestone of treating more patients in the community, bringing care closer to patient’s home in a ‘non-stigmatising’ environment.’

During the past year, HMC’s mental health hospital underwent significant improvements, including facility and service expansions and refurbishments. As part of the expansion, fifteen new doctors joined the acute care facility’s staff and ten additional specialists are expected to join this year as part of efforts to increase the number of staff with mental health expertise. The facility receives 150 patients each day.

The topic of Whole Person Care: Aiming for better Physical and Mental Healthcare will be featured in a learning session at the upcoming Middle East Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare. The session will be jointly presented on 23 March by Dr Rajeev Kumar, Dr Jassim Alsuwaidi, Dr Reem Alsulaiman, Dr Shahrad Taheri, and Dr Samar Al Emadi. More details can be found online at MEF2019.hamad.qa.

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