Sheikh Dr. Mohamed Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Director of the Public Health Department at the Ministry of Public Health said that this initiative is another step in a concerted effort to provide valuable mental health literacy to the population. “Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Qatar’s population is high on the agenda for the Ministry of Public Health and our healthcare partners. Both the National Health Strategy 2018-2022 and the Public Health Strategy 2017-2022 identify mental health and wellbeing among their key priorities.”
‘Ma’ak’ (which means ‘with you’ in Arabic), was the collaborative effort of a sub-group comprising representation from the MoPH’s National Mental Health Program team, HMC’s Mental Health Service (MHS) education team and Hamad International Training Center (HITC), as well as PHCC.
Mr. Mahmoud Al Raisi, Executive Chair of the National Taskforce on Mental Health & Wellbeing and Chief of the Continuing Care Group at HMC said that this initiative will provide greater awareness about Mental Health for the population. “Mental health awareness is an important aspect of a comprehensive national mental health and wellbeing strategy for the population. The Ma’ak programs will help improve understanding of mental health conditions and facilitate easier access to healthcare services for those in need.”
The first sector addressed by the Ma’ak program is the education sector, and both HMC and PHCC have developed education materials for schools that have been distributed over the past few months.
Dr. Samya Ahmad Al-Abdulla, Deputy National Lead for Mental Health for MOPH, and Executive Director of Operations at PHCC, explained that PHCC’s back-to-school campaign is complements the Ma’ak Mental Health in Schools program. “We launched the PHCC Back-To-School campaign, under the slogan of 'Towards Promoting Students' Overall Health’, in August, with the aim of reaching a wide segment of the community, including students of all ages, their parents and all public-school employees.”
“We also have a team of PHCC professionals visiting schools to provide valuable information about the importance of and advice on maintaining good mental, behavioral and psychological health as part of overall good health. Our goal is to empower students physically, psychologically, mentally and behaviorally as they embark on a new academic year,” added Dr. Al-Abdulla.
HMC launched the Ma’ak National Mental Health and Wellbeing schools’ program in October as part of the World Mental Health awareness activities. A series of free webinars covered a range of educational materials for different audience groups within this sector, including school children, parents, teachers, and school administrators. Future educational sessions will be offered during school term. Some of the curriculum for schools will offer additional training modules based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Mental Health in schools’ program. Schools that wish register their interest in participating in future educational sessions on mental health and wellbeing can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Iain Tulley, the MoPH National Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing, and CEO of the Mental Health Services at HMC said that great strides have been made in promoting awareness about mental health. “The Ma’ak program brings together expertise from a group of dedicated partners to facilitate open discussions about potential psychological concerns among different population groups and raise awareness about where to seek professional help. The schools’ program is the first Ma’ak program to be established. Our goal over the coming year is to develop other programs that target different population groups and their respective mental health needs,” Mr. Tulley said.
The Ma’ak National Mental Health and Wellbeing Program taskforce is chaired by Mr. Iain Tulley and currently includes representatives from MoPH, HMC and PHCC. Operationally the program is under the Kulluna umbrella, which is co-sponsored by ConocoPhillips-Qatar.