HMC launches Mental Health Awareness building, screening training program
November 28 2020 05:00 PM
Katja Warwick-Smith, Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen and Dr Majid al-Abdulla
Katja Warwick-Smith, Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen and Dr Majid al-Abdulla

* Initiative complements Mental Health Helpline, which has seen has screened around 13,000 calls till date

Two of Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) divisions have collaborated to deliver a tailored education and training programme on mental health awareness and screening for healthcare professionals in Qatar.

The accredited one-day training programme has been developed by the Mental Health Services (MHS) team with the support of Hamad International Training Center (HITC), who will include this in their portfolio of public training offerings from January 2021 onwards.

The course is targeted to all healthcare professionals and is designed to provide them with a solid understanding of common mental health disorders and how to screen for them, HMC has said in a statement. Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, director of HITC and senior consultant in Emergency Medicine, explained that while the commitment to develop mental health expertise among healthcare professionals has been around for some time, the coronavirus pandemic helped galvanise the delivery of this programme.

“The importance of mental health as part of holistic care has been evident more so this year as the Covid-19 pandemic has created a sense of urgency to support skills development, as well as support the well-being of those working in health care settings. Enhancing professional skills and capabilities among public and private sector staff will have a positive impact on staff and on patient outcomes across Qatar,” said Dr Saifeldeen. “HITC has a passion for developing the skills and knowledge of all healthcare professionals and we are honoured to be part of this collaboration that is so important for the population.”

Earlier this month, 200 Emergency Medicine staff members completed the course as part of their wide-ranging staff skills enhancement efforts. The corporate goal is to train all the approximately 1,500 EMS personnel by the end of the first quarter of 2021, the statement notes.

The programme lead, Katja Warwick-Smith, AED clinical service development, MHS-HMC, explained that the training course's structure placed importance on both academic learning and interactive engagement designed to support the participants' own well-being. “We wanted to ensure that participants who complete the course come away with a good understanding of mental health and well-being concepts; these are covered by a range of topics, including attitudes towards mental health, common problems and treatment options, communication skills and screening tools for common problems,” said Warwick-Smith. “However, in order to be able to help others, it is important to also understand one's own mental health and recognise potential challenges and so, significant emphasis is placed on allowing participants to share their own thoughts and enable them to discuss any difficult situations they may have experienced in their practice.

"This way, we can help them learn how to recognise similar signs in others and how to offer help.”

The outcome-oriented training is delivered online by experienced mental health professionals. Up to 45 participants can join each session to ensure sufficient opportunity for constructive dialogue. The course has been approved to offer five continuing professional development hours accredited by Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners.

Dr Majid al-Abdulla, chairman of Psychiatry and medical director of HMC’s Mental Health Service, explained the value of the programme in developing mental health knowledge capacity and capability in the country: “This is a wonderful opportunity to promote mental health awareness and education to a wider audience. We are delighted that the HITC will enable other healthcare professionals from across Qatar to access this training very soon, and for only a small, nominal fee, to cover our administration costs.”

“This initiative complements our national Mental Health Helpline, which has seen a rise in calls from all segments of our population over the past months with the coronavirus pandemic continuing to have an impact on people lives. To date, the helpline has screened around 13,000 calls, providing both anonymous support as well as enabling a referral for a more comprehensive consultation,” added Dr Abdulla.

The Mental Health Helpline is accessible via the tollfree number 16000 from 9am to 5pm, Saturday to Thursday. The helpline is staffed by a team of mental health professionals who can speak several languages.

These programmes complement the comprehensive World Mental Health Day campaign of 2020 themed 'Are You OK?', led by the Ministry of Public Health in collaboration with HMC, Primary Health Care Corporation, Sidra Medicine and Naufar; which commenced in October and continued during Qatar Healthcare Week in November.

Last updated: November 28 2020 08:22 PM

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