Mental Health in QatarQatar is an Arab country located on the western coast of the Persian Gulf Sea. It shares its border with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Iran. Qatar, a sovereign and independent state in the Middle East, is one of the world’s largest oil and gas exporters. The country is governed by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Its capital, Doha, has nearly 2.7 million residents.
Recently, Qatar is developing strategies and policies to transform its health hcare system. Mental health in Qatar is a key area for development, especially as one-fifth of adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Qatar’s Mental Health Friends Association, better known as Weyak, is a volunteer organization aiming to help people who struggle with mental illness in Qatar.

Weyak Helps More Than 249,000 People

Since 2014, more than 249,000 people have benefitted from Weyak’s services. Weyak’s training workshops for specialists, individuals and organizations are more than 8,000. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization played a vital role by running programs to help people in distress and struggling with feelings of uncertainty or anxiety.

Despite facing difficulties in their first year of service, the organization grew stronger, signing cooperations with several important institutions such as the Ministry of Public Health and the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).

The Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding

In 2017, at Doha’s Tornado Tower, Weyak signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with WISH. This establishes a cooperative framework to promote mental health in Qatar. It implements the best and latest international practices to achieve high standards of community mental health. MoU also allows the exchange of mental health information and ideas over various platforms, enabling WISH and Weyak to expand their networks within Qatar.

Further benefits of their collaboration include Weyak’s support of WISH at key mental health events. Its expertise within the community also aids the development of support groups for caregivers and those who suffer from mental health issues.

Weyak’s Free Tele-Counseling Service

As part of its service, Weyak provides free tele-counseling to those who need it. Promoted as a confidential and safe space, individuals can speak to a trained counselor who can offer support, as well as guide them to further resources. The service is available in seven languages: English, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Tagalog.

In March 2020, Weyak announced an extension of its phone counseling hours. Psychological support is now available for 12 hours daily, significantly increasing its accessibility from 12 pm – 8 pm to 9 am – 9 pm. The service remains free of charge.

Weyak’s Partnership with Oryx GTL

In early 2018, the synthetic fuel plant Oryx GTL provided financial support for Weyak’s psychological counseling program. With this financial aid, Weyak ran hundreds of counseling, educational and psychological sessions.

This is not the first time that Oryx GTL has partnered with Weyak. In 2015, the two organizations joined together to distribute a “self-construction map” to independent and private schools in Qatar. This map raised awareness of comprehensive mental health concepts among students and faculty. With such a partnership, Weyak continues to be able to expand its service to improve mental health in Qatar.

The Future for Weyak?

With increasing developments in Qatar’s mental health sector, organizations such as Weyak provide a valuable service. However, the organization is very reliant on sponsors and funding. Many sponsors and organizations tie funds to conditions and expect immediate results. And ever since the launch of its services in 2014, Weyak continues serving to provide an effective service for those struggling with mental health in Qatar.

– Grace Clay
Photo: Flickr