Mental health system in Saudi Arabia: an overview
Naseem Akhtar Qureshi,1 Abdulhameed Abdullah Al-Habeeb,2 Harold G Koenig3
1General Administration for Research and Studies, 2Mental Health and Social Services, Ministry of Health, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 3Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
Background: There is evidence that mapping mental health systems (MHSs) helps in planning and developing mental health care services for users, families, and other caregivers. The General Administration of Mental Health and Social Services of the Ministry of Health over the past 4 years has sought to streamline the delivery of mental health care services to health consumers in Saudi Arabia.
Objective: We overview here the outcome of a survey that assessed the Saudi MHS and suggest strategic steps for its further improvement.
Method: The World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems was used systematically to collect information on the Saudi MHS in 2009–2010, 4 years after a baseline assessment.
Results: Several mental health care milestones, especially provision of inpatient mental health services supported by a ratified Mental Health Act, were achieved during this period. However, community mental health care services are needed to match international trends evident in developed countries. Similarly, a larger well-trained mental health workforce is needed at all levels to meet the ever-increasing demand of Saudi society.
Conclusion: This updated MHS information, discussed in light of international data, will help guide further development of the MHS in Saudi Arabia in the future, and other countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region may also benefit from Saudi experience.
Keywords: Saudi Arabia, mental health system, organization, legal issues, research, training
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