First mental health facility for senior citizens launched

The Emirates Health Services (EHS) has opened the UAE’s first specialised treatment unit for inpatient mental health at Al Amal Psychiatric Hospital for senior citizens.

The opening of the new unit is in line with the UAE Government’s vision, which is aimed at improving the quality of life for senior citizens to bolster their integration into social life and enhance their capabilities despite all psychological challenges.

The new treatment unit will serve senior citizens suffering from severe psychological disorders as well as those who need hospitalisation for evaluation and treatment.

It will be managed by a highly qualified multidisciplinary team that includes an elite group of psychological and social specialists, who will be supported by the cooperation between the EHS and Maudsley Health, one of the oldest and most important psychological treatment institutions in the world.

Dr Youssef Mohammed Al Serkal, director-general of EHS, said: “The EHS is very keen to provide exceptional healthcare to senior citizens in accordance with the directives of the wise leadership, to improve their quality of life, enhance the public awareness of their health and psychological needs, launch initiatives and projects that focus on promoting their mental health.”

Al Serkal stressed that senior citizens are now being provided with easy access to distinguished services available at Al Amal Hospital, which has international accreditation, the first of its kind in the region.

He also emphasised the importance of strengthening local and global partnerships with international centres of expertise in the field of mental health for the elderly.

Most common disorders

Dr Amna Turki Al Ali, director of Al Amal Hospital, highlighted that the most prevalent mental illnesses among the elderly include depression, anxiety and Alzheimer’s, which results from weak cognitive abilities.

“We are working to make the most of appropriate behavioural and pharmacological treatments to provide a supportive environment that makes the elderly feel confident, reassured and safe,” she said.

She said that the inpatient unit will use an effective approach that follows the best scientific evidence available, with optimum use of resources and continuous training of mental health service providers.

Dr Noor Al Muhairi, director of the EHS Department of Mental Health, said that introducing a new therapeutic unit for senior citizens will improve the mental health services provided. Moreover, it will also help deal with physiological and psychological changes in the ageing stage, by evaluating patient’s behaviour and awareness, remedial procedures, effective care methods, behavioural and psychological support.

“Recognising the fact that this segment needs special care, we are keen to develop field research to formulate innovative policies, anticipate challenges to handle them effectively,” Al Muhairi said.

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Dr Al Serkal added: “We want to develop and train medical and technical cadres, support and promote scientific research in the field of mental health, upgrade information systems and update the statistical database on mental health in line with the National Mental Health Policy.

“We will spare no effort to promote, strengthen and expand the scope of comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health services that are responsive to the needs and directed to the community of all categories and ages.”

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