While in a state of development, the mental health field in Saudi Arabia still has a long way to go to catch up to the West. This is unfortunate since there are a relatively large number of individuals suffering from depression there.
One study found that the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, has a very high rate of major depression reaching almost 7% (a rate higher than the global average). Each year, an estimated 201,000 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are lost from depression in Saudi Arabia. One DALY is defined as a year of life potentially lost either by premature death or disability.
Rates of Depression in Saudi Arabia
Several studies have been conducted each of which looks at the rates of depression found in certain populations. For instance, Screening of Depression among Patients in Family Medicine in Southeastern Saudi Arabia found that 12% of the screened patients suffered from depression. Of these, 9% had moderate depression, 9% had moderately severe depression, and 6% had severe depression. These rates were dependent on employment and place of residence.
Another research paper, Adult Depression Screening in Saudi Primary Care: Prevalence, Instrument and Cost, found that almost 49.9% of patients suffered some form of depression. Of these, 4.4% were moderate-severe and 1.0% were severe. Females and those with higher education were more likely to be depressed.
Saudi Advances in Mental Health
Arab News reports that there have been steps taken to address unmet needs for psychiatric treatment in Saudi Arabia. A recent mental health forum in Riyadh supported by the Ministry of Health resulted in profound insight into the proper management of [major depressive disorder], consultancy guidelines and treatment options.
A paper published in the Open Journal of Psychiatry entitled Mental Health Care in Saudi Arabia: Past, Present and Future acknowledged that the country was making major strides in its mental health fields. However, the authors said that there was still a ways to go in extending care to the entire population particularly in the areas of psychiatric training and research. For now then, there is still a lack of treatment options for the 44% of secondary school students with moderate to very severe depression as well as the 57% of patients at substance abuse hospitals who also suffered from this mental illness.
Attitudes to Mental Health in Saudi Society
One of the major hurdles in the development of proper depression treatment is how Saudi Arabians view the mental health field. The National Association of Social Workers writes about how clients of ethnic Arab origin have a negative view of mental health services and may tend to mistrust and underuse them. This is because they offer advice that can be seen as ignoring the traditional religious or spiritual support found in the teachings of Islam.
Mental health in general may also be seen as a narcissistic preoccupation caused by simply thinking too much. As such, the expression of negative feelings isn’t too common in Saudi culture and so many suffer from depression without wanting to tell anyone, even their family, about it. This is especially harmful since family typically plays a large role in helping an individual seek help and find treatment.
Treatment Alternatives for Saudis
Individuals in Saudi Arabia who are suffering from depression and who want treatment without the social stigma, often look overseas for help. Camino Recovery offers tailored treatment plans for depression and other mental issues in our Spanish retreat on the Andalusian Coast. We offer western standards of care in a private environment where you can focus on recovery without worrying about the societal norms of home.
Balancing Body and Mind
Our trained clinical and support staff will seek out the root cause of mental problems such as depression through a variety of tried-and-true techniques. These include group therapy, equine assisted psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. All of this will take place at our private retreat a few minutes from the lovely Spanish seaside. In this serene environment, you can delve into your mind and seek out the reasons for your depression.
We are found just under an hour’s drive from Malaga Airport which can be reached after a 12-hour flight from Riyadh. Flights here are many with transfers through numerous cities including Paris, Frankfurt and Istanbul. On arrival, we will pick you up at the airport and whisk you directly to our rehab centre where you can get to work on restoring your mind and balancing your being in time for your eventual return to Saudi Arabia.