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Mental Health, the forgotten piece in the healthcare system

Dr. Ali Elhaj, CEO, Ardens Health Chair, Governance, Leadership and Research Division Arab Hospital Federation

Mental health parity, coverage, services, and health policies decisions are all critical factors in ensuring that individuals have access to the healthcare services they need. Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, influencing every aspect of our lives. Yet, mental health concerns are often stigmatized and marginalized, leading to inadequate attention and resources.

One of the key reasons mental health must be integrated into the healthcare system is its prevalence. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health disorders affect one in four people worldwide. This staggering statistic highlights the need for comprehensive and accessible mental health services and paving the way to articulate the reasons for rapid and necessary integration:

  • Integrating mental health into all aspects of healthcare policies, coverage, and interventions can ensure the continuity and completion of the healthcare system circle of care. 
  • Integrating mental health into healthcare policies allows for early identification of mental health issues, enabling timely intervention and treatment.
  • Integrating mental health into healthcare policies ensures that mental health services are more readily available and accessible to all individuals.
  • Integrating mental health into healthcare policies and interventions ultimately leads to a better quality of life for individuals, as their mental well-being is prioritized.
  • By addressing mental health alongside physical health, individuals can receive comprehensive care, leading to better overall well-being.
  • By focusing on mental health as part of healthcare, preventive measures can be implemented to reduce the risk of mental health disorders and promote well-being.
  • By promoting mental well-being, individuals can experience improved productivity and performance in their personal and professional lives.
  • By prioritizing mental health, we can create stronger and more supportive communities, fostering a sense of belonging and social connectedness.
  • Addressing mental health holistically leads to improved treatment outcomes, better recovery rates, and reduced relapse rates.
  • Addressing mental health proactively, can reduce the burden on the healthcare systems, increase productivity, and enhance social well-being.
  • Treating mental health as an integral part of healthcare helps to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health support.

Mental health should no longer be the forgotten piece in the healthcare system. Its significance must be recognized and integrated into all aspects of healthcare policies, coverage, and interventions. By doing so, we can ensure that individuals receive the comprehensive care they deserve, promote early intervention, reduce stigma, and improve overall well-being.  Prioritizing the mental health agenda will be the catalyst for creating a healthcare system that truly addresses the needs of the whole person.

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