Seven in 10 UAE residents open to seek help for mental health issues: Survey
The survey also showed that fewer than one in five would do research online for help or handle it themselves.
Most UAE residents would seek professional help if they or someone they knew was suffering from mental health problems, according to a new survey, suggesting that people were ready to break the stigma surrounding the topic.
A recent YouGov survey shows that the proportion saying they would get expert assistance varies depending on the type of issue.
The research comes as part of the Dubai Health Authority's (DHA) 'Happy Lives, Healthy Communities' strategy to remove the stigma around mental health.
Sixty-two per cent of those surveyed said they would seek professional help if they had suicidal thoughts and 61 per cent said it's time to consult an expert if self-harm was involved.
It found that more than seven in 10 (72 per cent) would seek - or suggest seeking - help from a mental health professional if they (or a person they are close to) were struggling with their mental health.
More than half (55 per cent) would talk to a close friend or family member, while three in 10 (30 per cent) would talk to a trusted authority figure, such as a religious leader. Around a quarter would either go to a general practitioner (28 per cent) or rely on alternative medicine or treatment (25 per cent).
The survey also showed that fewer than one in five would do research online for help (19 per cent) or handle it themselves (15 per cent).
The study, which questioned 1,085 people online in early April, found that majorities would look for expert assistance for mental health issues such as having hallucinations or delusions (56 per cent), anxiety issues (55 per cent), and post-traumatic stress disorder (53 per cent).
Fewer than half, though, would seek professional help when it came to obsessive compulsive behaviours (49 per cent), personality disorders (47 per cent), bipolar disorders (43 per cent), and eating disorders (36 per cent).
Experts said suicidal thoughts and depression don't get better on their own, so getting help is a must. If a loved one shows signs of mental illness, one should start an open and honest discussion with him or her, they said.
Though a suicide helpline is yet to be created, Dubai is running pilot projects to integrate mental health services in primary healthcare settings. "We will run pilot projects to integrate the services in primary healthcare services so that people can walk in without feeling stigmatised," said Farah Aqel, specialist at the health policy and strategy department at the DHA.
The authority is also determined to start intervention as early as possible, with its Infant Mental Health programme for newborns to five-year-olds.
Dr Nadia Dabbagh, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Rashid Hospital and programme lead for the Mental Health Strategy at the DHA, said these children would be adults tomorrow and, with such early interventions, they are less likely to use drugs or other substances.
She also said that over the past 20 years, the burden of the disease - especially depression and anxiety - had increased.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UAE has the highest regional level of depression, at 5.1 per cent of the population. The country also ranks high for anxiety, with 4.1 per cent of people admitting to a problem. In 2015, there were 444,016 cases of depression reported at primary health centres, while 354,199 people sought help for anxiety.
When to see a doctor
If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your primary care provider or mental health specialist. Most mental illnesses don't improve on their own and, if untreated, a mental illness may get worse over time and cause serious problems.
Signs and symptoms
>Feeling sad or down
>Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
>Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
>Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
>Withdrawal from friends and activities
>Significant tiredness, low energy or sleeping problems
>Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
>Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
>Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
>Alcohol or drug abuse
>Major changes in eating habits
>Sex drive changes
> Excessive anger, hostility or violence
>Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headache, or other unexplained aches and pains
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