By Balqis Al-Jabri
JEDDAH – The conditions at the Kingdom’s mental health hospitals are worse than many prisons around the world, said Dr. Muhammad Al-Shawoosh, the former director of Al-Amal Hospital in Jeddah and a consultant psychiatrist.
He said there was an urgent need for intervention from the Ministry of Health. There was also a need for universities to revise their syllabi to produce better trained mental health professionals.
He said recommendations on improving such hospitals have been gathering dust. He urged officials to take the necessary action.
Al-Shawoosh said the drastic shortage of trained medical staff in the Kingdom and the world was a result of common misconceptions about becoming a mental health practitioner, and poor education.
He said the situation at mental health hospitals has remained unchanged for more than 20 years. There are 16 psychiatric hospitals in the Kingdom and three Amal hospitals which treat drug addiction but these are too few to treat the rising number of patients.
Al-Shawoosh urged officials to abide by international agreements on the treatment of persons with mental illnesses. He said such patients have not been able to voice their concerns, resulting in a steady deterioration of their treatment and care.