Despite nearly one in every two people facing psychological issues, mental health ailments across the country are both under-diagnosed and under-treated in the UAE, health professionals said recently in the capital.
There is also a lack of data on the prevalence of these illnesses among the population, which further complicates treatment processes and decision making, they added.
“Although there is a worldwide stigma associated with mental illnesses, the problem is worse here. People do not even want to report any stresses to their physicians, and are even less likely to go for treatment, which in turn causes difficulties in treating any other physical illnesses they may be facing,” said Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, manager of health promotions and surveillance at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi.
Call for persistence
“However, in a country with a high prevalence of chronic diseases like diabetes, and where many people live away from their families, psychological traumas are likely to be particularly high, so health professionals need to be persistent in diagnosing these conditions and insisting on treatment,” she said.
Dr Omniyat was speaking at the two-day 2nd National Women’s Health Conference, where health professionals met to discuss illnesses affecting women and ways of effectively treating them.
Need for vigilance
“Sadly, in my 11 years of work as a health professional in the capital, only two patients really took my advice and sought the psychological help they needed,” Dr Omniyat said.
“While more women have mental health concerns, the situation is often worse for men, who are far less likely to report any issues. As a result of these types of stigmas, less than 30 per cent of all people diagnosed with mental conditions around the world get proper treatment,” she added.
“Primary healthcare physicians should also be vigilant when diagnosing patients who have been affected by chronic diseases or traumas of any kind, as more than half of them are likely to need psychological help,” said Dr Nellie Shuri Boma, conference director and chief medical officer at the Al Rahba Hospital.
Suffering in silence
of patients with neuro-psychotic disorders suffer from depression
of patients with mental health concerns get treatment