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Mental Health Awareness Campaign begins

Productiveness, human rights and reintegration to the society of the mentally challenged are the main focus of the three-day Awareness Campaign which opened yesterday at the .

Organised by the Psychiatry Department at the Hamad Medical Corporation, the event includes an exhibition of the arts and crafts work of the patients, interactive question and answer sessions with mental health professionals and distribution of informative leaflets and pamphlets to the public.

“The event is aimed at promoting a better understanding of mental health to the public. This is to clarify and correct wrong concepts in the society through the years about the mentally challenged,” explained Dr Ahmad Elamir Zakareia of Psychiatry Department adding that through the event, they want to show that these patients can be productive members of the society if given the chance.
“The message that we want to reach the public is to accept them back again on solid scientific and humane grounds,” he said. Held for the second consecutive year, the event was originally planned to be hosted in observance of the World Mental Health Day which falls on October 10. “Last year the event coincided with the World Mental Health Day. We are planning to organise a bigger exhibition in October,” said Dr Suhaila Ghuloum, Director of the Psychiatry Department at Rumailah Hospital.

A great deal of colourful handicrafts, accessories and household items crafted by the patients are being exhibited at the event. They include bracelets, subhas (prayer beads), necklaces, hairpins, slippers, throw pillows and mats, in addition to lampshades, bags, photo frames and baskets designed using ghutra, all of which are for sale.

Proceeds of the event will be invested to further improve the activities of the Occupational Therapy department’s program for the patients.

Dr Ghuloum said the products are the output of the art therapy programme undertaken by the Occupational Therapy Department which has been going on for many years now. “The programme, which is conducted daily, is a very effective way in rehabilitating and treating the patients because it gives them a sense of identity and knowing they are contributing and achieving something raises their self-esteem enormously,” she said.

The programme is based on the concept that drawing, painting and other forms of art which help to express emotions and feelings can help in the of patients with conditions such as bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, acute transient psychosis, depressive illness, adjustment disorder, and personality disorder.

Art therapy also helps occupational therapists to understand the patients’ mental conditions. “Many times a patient suffering from a mental illness is unable to communicate with words. Art done by these patients can indicate the mental condition of the person,” said occupational therapist Fatima Ali Al Ali.

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