Posted on June 01, 2017

The impact of mental disorders on the health of Qatari citizens and residents is set to be the subject of a significant research study led by University of Calgary in Qatar researcher, assistant professor Dr. Vahe Kehyayan, PhD. The study will examine attitudes toward mental illness and its treatment among patients, their families, and doctors and nurses in the health system.

“Everyone knows someone who is living with a mental illness,” says Dr. Kehyayan. “A recent study has suggested that 25% of people in Qatar have a mental illness; so these are our families and friends – everyone is touched in some way by this.”

Dr. Kehyayan points out that studies in other parts of the world indicate that the stigma associated with mental illness can prevent people from seeking effective medical treatment. Mental illness can also have an impact on other areas of health, including increased risks around smoking, reduced activity, poor diet, obesity, and blood pressure. However, very little research on the stigma of mental illness has been done in the Middle East, and this study aims to improve understanding of the issue in Qatar and in the region.

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“The University of Calgary in Qatar is always pleased to be involved in research that supports the goals of Qatar,” said Dr. Deborah White, Dean and CEO of UCQ. “This study supports objectives outlined in Qatar’s Mental Health Strategy along with the National Research Strategy and the National Health Strategy. This study will be a big help in identifying the impact of mental illness on the community and begin to identify ways to reducing stigma.”

This proposed project has several benefits to Qatar, including contributing to its strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of Qatar’s population and increasing its human capacity for conducting scientific research. It will also raise awareness in Qatar’s society of mental illness and its adverse consequences. Dr. Kehyayan was recently named a fellow with the prestigious interRAI Organization, a collaborative network of international researchers who are committed to promoting evidence-informed clinical practice to improve the care of persons across a variety of health and social services settings.  

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