OF MIND AND BODY
This year, Qatar is embracing a wellbeing theme for World Mental Health Day, promoting the notion that "a happy, healthy life means caring for your body and mind".
Qatar's National Mental Health Strategy lays out a vision in which its population is educated and self-aware on issues of mental as well as physical health.
T he inclusion of mental as well as physical health in our overall definition of a happy, healthy life aligns with the compelling evidence about the interconnections between chronic disease, injury and mental health. Positive mental or emotional health is associated with decreased risk of illness and injury; better immune functioning; better coping and quicker recovery; and increased longevity. Therefore, to protect and enhance the overall wellbeing of our people, we are undertaking a collaborative plan to integrate mental health within our public health programmes.
What does our theme really mean for the people of Qatar? Without using technical terminology, mental health is about the way a person thinks and feels, and their ability to deal with ups and downs in life. Good mental health is a sense of wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem that enables us to fully enjoy life. So when we discuss mental health, therefore, we are not talking about something mysterious or frightening, but about something we all share as human beings - our personal response to the challenges and difficulties of life, and our interest in its pleasures and rewards. When we recognise this, it becomes much easier to see the benefits of taking steps to increase our happiness and enjoyment of life by enhancing our mental health and reducing the risk of it declining.
Because our body responds to the way we think, feel and act, our physical health is affected when we are stressed, anxious or upset. A healthy mind naturally tends towards the good maintenance of a healthy body, and a healthy body is a crucial factor in preserving a healthy mind. It is not a surprise, therefore, that many of the things we can do to improve physical health - such as sleeping and resting sufficiently, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet – will also help us to stay emotionally healthy and happy.
The chemistry of the body and brain is a topic of fantastic complexity and delicacy in its details, but through thousands of years of evolution we instinctively know many of the fundamental principles that underpin good function: for example, that regular exercise produces an immediate feeling of wellbeing and also promotes good sleep, which in turn provides the opportunity for the body to use nutrients consumed for the repair of damage and restoration of energies in body and mind for better focus and performance the following day.
Another factor, recognised worldwide, and particularly fortunate in Qatar where we remain traditionally close-knit as families, is that strong relationships, social connections and a caring community improve everyone's sense of overall wellbeing. Recognised in the social model of health, we know that good physical health and supportive networks of friends and family deliver huge benefits for our overall wellbeing, including good mental health.
Our integrated approach to health and wellbeing is also responding to the rapid change Qatar's society and culture is undergoing and the significant challenges that are potentially ahead.
The individual response to stress and challenging life events can cause physiological changes which affect overall health. Since prolonged exposure to stress can also increase the chances of developing a mental illness, it is important for the people of Qatar to learn how to manage stress for themselves and how to help others during difficult circumstances.
Our plans to build the resilience of our community and increase overall health are being delivered alongside the development of our services. We want people to be able to access the support they need in a range of settings. It's important that people know that if sadness, worry or stress persist and they find it hard to cope with everyday life, support is available through our health services and they should ask for help, without any sense of shame.
Qatar's National Mental Health Strategy lays out a vision for the future in which our population is educated and self-aware on issues of mental as well as physical health, and ready and willing to help themselves, their families and friends to achieve the best that is possible in health and happiness. Sharing our vision for good mental health and wellbeing for the people of Qatar is intended to promote a vital, resilient society and culture towards the National Vision 2030
"Qatar's National Mental Health Strategy lays out a vision in which our population is educated and self-aware on issues of mental as well as physical health."
SHEIKH MOHAMMED HAMAD J AL THANI Director of Public Health, Supreme Council of Health.