Two divisions of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) recently collaborated to deliver a tailored education and training programme on mental health awareness and screening for healthcare professionals in Qatar.

The accredited one-day training programme was developed by the Mental Health Services (MHS) team with support from Hamad International Training Center (HITC). The training will be included in the HITC portfolio of public training offerings from January 2021 onwards. The course is designed for healthcare professionals to provide them with a solid understanding of common mental health disorders.

Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Saifaldeen
Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Saifaldeen

HITC Director and Senior Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, explained that while the commitment to develop mental health expertise among healthcare professionals has been around for some time, the COVID-19 pandemic helped to galvanise the delivery of the programme.

He said that the importance of mental health as part of holistic care has been evident more so this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has created a sense of urgency to support skills development, as well as support the well-being of those working in the healthcare settings.

Enhancing professional skills and capabilities among public and private sector staff will have a positive impact on staff and patient outcomes across Qatar, said Dr Saifeldeen.

HITC has a passion for developing the skills and knowledge of all healthcare professionals and we are honoured to be part of this collaboration that is so important for the population.

Earlier this month 200 Emergency Medicine staff completed the course as part of their wide-ranging staff skills enhancement efforts. The corporate goal is to train all the approximately 1500 EMS personnel by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

Katja Warwick-Smith
Katja Warwick-Smith

Programme lead Katja Warwick-Smith, AED Clinical Service Development at MHS HMC, explained that the training course structure places importance on both academic learning and interactive engagement to support the participants’ well-being.

She said that they wanted to ensure that participants who complete the course come away with a good understanding of mental health and well-being concepts – attitudes towards mental health, common problems and treatment options, communication skills, and screening tools for common problems.

However, she said that in order to help others, it is important to also understand one’s own mental health and recognise potential challenges. Significant emphasis is placed on allowing participants to share their own thoughts and enable them to discuss any difficult situations they may have experienced in their practice. She added that this way, they can help them to learn how to recognise similar signs in others and how to offer help.

The outcome-oriented training is delivered online by experienced mental health professionals. Up to 45 participants can join each session to ensure sufficient opportunity for constructive dialogue. The course has been approved to offer five Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours accredited by Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners (QCHP).

Dr Majid Al Abdulla
Dr Majid Al Abdulla

According to Dr Majid Al Abdulla, Chairman of Psychiatry and Medical Director of the HMC Mental Health Service, this is a wonderful opportunity to promote mental health awareness and education to a wider audience.

He said that the initiative complements the national Mental Health Helpline, which has seen a rise in calls from all segments of the population over the past months. To date, the helpline has screened around 13,000 calls, providing anonymous support as well as enabling a referral for a more comprehensive consultation.

The Mental Health Helpline is accessible via 16000 from Saturday to Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm. The helpline is staffed by a team of mental health professionals who can speak several languages.

The Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with HMC, the Primary Health Care Corporation, Sidra Medicine, and Naufar, launched a comprehensive World Mental Health Day campaign following the 2020 global theme, ‘Are You OK?’ The campaign commenced in October and continues through during Qatar Healthcare Week this month.

For more information about HMC’s Mental Health Services, visit hamad.qa


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