20% adults could face mental health Issues: Experts

Experts from Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), managed by Cleveland Clinic, are offering support to patients and families living with mental illness, as part of its monthly mental health awareness lectures for the local community in Abu Dhabi.

The public lecture will take place on 4 February from 7 - 9pm, in the Behavioural Sciences Pavilion (BSP) auditorium at SKMC, and is aimed at helping to recognise the signs of mental illness in family members and friends.

According to SKMC physicians, as many as 20 percent of adults could face mental health issues throughout their lives, with less than 50 percent seeking support and treatment - a number that is linked to a negative image of mental illness in the community.

“Patients with mental illness are unfairly judged by society, and there is a very negative image associated with disease, and so people who genuinely need assistance and support tend not to reach out,” said Dr. Gamal Mousa, Psychiatrist at SKMC, and who will be delivering the lecture in conjunction with social worker Mohamed Salah Mohamed.

“There are some key signs to look out for, including change in character, inability to deal with daily tasks, depression, panic and mood swings, among others, that are an indication that someone may need to seek psychological assistance - there is no shame in seeking help and there are multiple treatment options,” Dr. Mousa added.

According to Dr. Mousa, supportive family, friends and workplaces play an essential role in helping someone cope with mental illness, and those that best manage their illness often have a strong social network to support them.

“Recovery is a process, and a goal. The decision to seek professional help to commence this journey of recovery can be difficult, but it’s never too early to start,” he added.

This health talk is part of the Mental Health Awareness Program that started in March 2010, and includes a series of health talks in Arabic language every month on different topics related to mental health and social problems. The invitation is extended to the public and SKMC’s patients. SKMC is part of the SEHA Health System and is owned and operated by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company PJSC (SEHA), which is responsible for the curative activities of all the public hospitals and clinics in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The Mental Health Awareness Program is organized by the BSP of SKMC, a comprehensive psychiatric facility committed to providing mental health treatment services in the UAE. The program consists of monthly public health talks about different topics related to mental health in the Arabic language. The talks are given by a panel of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists as well as social workers from the BSP. Each session includes a question and answer session to answer the attendees’ inquiries.

The SKMC Mental Health Awareness program addressing issues relevant to the community is continuously updated and the lectures are as follows:

-         Adolescence - Safe Transition from Childhood to Adulthood

-         Handling Crises

-         The Internet and its Social and Psychological Effects

-         Characteristics of an Addict

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