Demand for mental health treatment in UAE rises six-fold in three years
People in the Emirates are becoming more open and breaking barriers to seek medical help.
The number of patients in the UAE seeking help for mental health problems increased at least six-fold in three years, World Health Organisationfigures show.
Admissions for inpatient and outpatient mental health services soared between 2017 and 2020.There were 12.09 inpatient admissions for mental health problems for every 100,000 of the population in the UAE in 2017. This rose to 71.65 for every 100,000 in 2020.The coronavirus pandemic worsened many people’s mental health as they dealt with financial and relationship concerns, said Dr Haseeb Khan Rohilla, a specialist psychiatrist at the Priory Wellbeing Centre in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.“Life is all about dealing with and managing stressors,” he said.“However, when thoughts, emotions and behaviour feel like they are getting ‘out of control’, to the extent they are starting to affect relationships, work or overall sense of well-being, it is time to seek professional help.”
Experts said more people were seeking help because of greater awareness of mental health problems, a reduction in stigma, changes to drug laws and pressure from work, family and social media.“There is more awareness now among people in the UAE that they should come forward and seek psychiatric help,” Dr Abdelazim Ali, a consultant psychiatrist at Maudsley Health in Abu Dhabi, told The National. “The other cause for the increased number, I think, is drug addiction, which has become a big problem.”
Speaking during Mental Health Awareness Month, Dr Ali said patients being admitted to hospital for mental health treatment usually suffer from psychosis, schizophrenia, self-harm, addiction or suicidal thoughts.“They are usually in a state where they are at risk of harming themselves or other people,” he said. A change in the law in 2016 meant that first-time drug offenders could be sent for treatment rather than being prosecuted.This has led to an increase in the number of people admitted to hospital for addiction, said Dr Ali, with drugs such as crystal meth and cannabis often the trigger for mental health troubles.
Mental health problems range from stress and anxiety to addiction and psychosis. Patients are usually admitted to the hospital if they pose a risk to themselves or other people, Dr Ali said.“We have an inpatient facility at Alamal Hospital in Dubai.