UAE in dire need of psychologists

DUBAI // There are fewer than one psychiatrist and one psychologist for every 100,000 people in the UAE, according to a mental health specialist. Dr Yana Korobko, a psychoanalytical expert, said there were only 0.3 psychiatrists and 0.51 psychologists for each 100,000 residents. “If we compare it with the US, the District of Columbia has […]

DUBAI // There are fewer than one psychiatrist and one psychologist for every 100,000 people in the UAE, according to a mental health specialist.

Dr Yana Korobko, a psychoanalytical expert, said there were only 0.3 psychiatrists and 0.51 psychologists for each 100,000 residents.

“If we compare it with the US, the District of Columbia has got 173.3 licenced psychologists per 100,000 population.”

Her book about the mental health of the region, Arabs in Treatment: Development of Mental Health System and Psychoanalysis in the Arab-Islamic World, is scheduled for a September release.

Dr Korobko said that despite an overall increase in psychology centres in the UAE, more than 33,000 patients were without the specialist care they needed.

“The number of specialised clinics is constantly growing. However, high-quality mental health services are still not available for everyone who needs them,” said the 28-year-old Ukrainian. “The majority of locals prefer to seek treatment abroad, and also for the reason of keeping it discreet.”

She said there was still resistance among locals to consult doctors when it came to mental health.

“An Emirati national often first opts to speak with a relative, religious leader or a traditional healer, instead of seeking professional help.”

Dr Muhammad S Tahir, head of psychiatry at Westminster Clinic in Dubai, said that because the UAE was a traditional Muslim society where family structure was strong, people tried to sort out most of their psychological issues by sharing information with family members rather than going to a doctor.

However, he said the number of patients he saw had increased considerably in the last five years.

The 45-year-old said the most common mental health issues were anxiety disorders, such as panic and social phobia. These were followed by depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders and psychosis.

“Most of the anxiety and depression cases are directly related to competitive urban lifestyle, its aspiration, peer pressure, economic and social pressures.”

Dr Tahir said one out of six children and one out of five teenagers in Dubai suffered from depression and anxiety.

“Despite such an alarming situation, parents still remain in a denial phase and reluctant to take them to the doctor unless the child’s school advised them to do so or if an unfortunate incident happened.”

Depression among children and teenagers often went hand-in-hand with other psychological disorders such as schizophrenia, he said.

He added psychological disorders could be costly to treat and were often not covered by insurance for expatriates. This factored into the number of people avoiding mental health specialists.

Dr Tahir dismissed any notion that there were higher rates of depression among blue-collar workers. “Against a common perception, blue-collar workers are less depressed people than the white-collar workers in Dubai,” he said.

“They are most content with their circumstances and a lack of greed and physical hard work keeps them away from anxiety and depression.”

akhaishgi@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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