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 Today - - INSIDE THIS ISSUE -

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.

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