ABU DHABI, 20th January, 2023 (WAM) — Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) today inaugurated the 3rd Abu Dhabi Integrated Mental Health Conference, which is taking place on the 20th and 21st of January 2023 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).
Held in cooperation with the Department of Health Abu Dhabi (DoH), the conference is part of the capital’s efforts towards driving mental health reforms and plans to strengthen strategies for the benefit of the community. The conference also serves as an international platform to bring together international specialists and key speakers from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Uganda, Germany, the UAE, Lebanon, Canada, and Australia.
Among key topics spotlighted at the conference are the strategies and initiatives launched by Abu Dhabi to promote mental health among all communities. Additionally, the conference also aims to create an open dialogue on the topics of international mental health care models, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, paediatric mental health, diagnosis and treatment journeys of mental health patients, as well as a number of other topics related to subject.
Dr. Nahida Nayaz Ahmed, Consultant Psychiatrist, Chair, Behavioral Health Council, SEHA, and the Mental Health Task Force, DoH, said, “We have always believed that mental health support should be made more accessible, and that has been the primary objective of this conference since its inception. This event will encourage vital mental health conversations across a variety of sectors, ultimately benefiting the community we serve.”
Dr. Nahida added, “We are immensely proud to work closely on this conference which covers all areas of mental health including – government initiatives, COVID-related mental health responses by different nations, the latest innovations in medical fields including neuropsychiatry and oncology, and primary care integration. With the intent of examining and exchanging solutions for improving the quality of life for mentally ill patients, we have formulated workshops on a variety of issues such as workplace mental health, in-school mental health, trauma and abuse care, and many other fascinating subjects. In addition, for the very first time in the region, there will be a workshop involving individuals with lived experiences from around the world, who will share their journey to recovery from mental health challenges. We are grateful to the country’s leadership for their continued faith in us and constant support in making mental health the foremost agenda for the government.”
Adding an international perspective, the Day One agenda included sessions highlighting various models of mental health care from around the world. Dr. Simon Stafrace delivered a compelling talk on ‘Fixing a Broken Mental Health System in Victoria, Australia’ and Dr. Kirsten Meisinger, Professor Berthold Langguth, and Karla Thorpe spoke on mental health models and psychiatric care in the USA, Germany, and Canada respectively. Furthermore, a significant portion of the day one agenda has been dedicated to the impact of Covid-19 on mental health and the responses to mental health impact of the pandemic from countries around the world.
For her part, Hind Al Zaabi, Executive Director of the Healthcare Facilities Sector at DoH, said, “Today, more than ever, we realise the importance of building a strong and comprehensive health system that meets the needs of the community, including mental health services. Thanks to the continued support of our wise leadership, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi is committed to achieving its vision to make Abu Dhabi a physically and psychologically healthy society. In order to establish the Emirate as a leading healthcare destination, we continue our endeavours to highlight mental health as synonymous with physical health. Simultaneously, we will work to reduce misconceptions around mental health and encourage the community to adopt a healthy lifestyle. We remain committed in facilitating prevention and early detection of mental health issues to ensure that patients receive comprehensive care at the earliest, thereby allowing them to rejoin society following their treatment.”
Day two of the mental health conference will touch upon Neuropsychiatry with Dr. Asanga Fernando speaking on ‘Integrating New and Emerging Technologies into Practice and Education – Lessons from a Large London Hospital’. Another topic in focus is Primary Care Integration and Psychological Insights with Dr. Cairo Arafat and Jamila AlBraiki stationed to speak on Child Protection Mental Health. Additionally, sessions will touch upon a wide spectrum of topics ranging from mental health at the workplace and impact of conditions such as cancer and infertility to empathy in clinical practice.
Rounding up the conference will be a series of workshops on ‘Domestic Abuse and Trauma Counselling’ and ‘Building Mental Health Resilience in Schools’ to name a few.
In addition to serving as a platform for groundbreaking research in mental health, the conference will serve as an excellent opportunity to expand existing professional networks and meet experts from across the globe and presents an opportunity to build channels between public and regulatory sectors with healthcare providers.
The one-of-a-kind conference is a part of SEHA’s efforts towards driving mental health reforms across Abu Dhabi and serves as an international platform to highlight the Emirate’s strategic plans and mental health model of care. The conference’s primary purpose continues to be making mental health more accessible and the event features an amalgamation of efforts of all parties involved in Abu Dhabi’s health care ecosystem, and which includes prominent government stakeholders, eminent clinical practitioners, academicians, and mental health professionals.