x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A holistic approach to mental illness

As modernisation continues to transform the landscape of the Emirates and medical tourism rapidly increases, we hope that those in need of help will be met with more than just a prescription.

The mind is a complex organ; some might say its an organism in itself. As the command centre for both our most basic functions and complex thoughts, scientists are still grappling with its mysteries more than a century after the term "psychiatry" was coined. Literally meaning "healing of the mind or soul", psychiatry has long been a contentious field of study because of the delicacy surrounding patients and their illnesses. While it is a clinical field, it is also one that must contend with the social stigma of illnesses that have long been misunderstood by society. While emotional and cognitive problems have been diagnosed since the 5th century BC, they were only truly understood in the later half of the 20th century, as advances in technology made diagnosis of depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other illnesses possible.
As we report today, the stigma associated with these illnesses is slowly being dismantled as the UAE government focuses on their treatment. As we report today, the psychiatric ward at Dubai's Rashid Hospital is undergoing a renovation to reflect some of the best and most advanced practices in the field. Environment is a key factor included in the redesign of the hospital. Wooden furniture, brightly-coloured curtains and garden space are some of the small changes made with patients in mind to aid their psychological recovery. Specialisation of care is another key area under review; a geriatric rehabilitation centre in Safa and a special treatment unit for adolescents will cater to the needs of these specific demographics.
As modernisation continues to transform the landscape of the Emirates and medical tourism rapidly increases, we hope that those in need of help will be met with more than just a prescription. In this way, the practice of psychiatry in the UAE can live up to its original definition of healing the mind as well as the soul.