Mental health awareness - Q&A with our experts Mental Health News and Blog | Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai

How our specialists can help you

Following the recent World Mental Health Day (10 October) and throughout the year, we strive to raise awareness and continue the important conversations surrounding mental health. Here at Priory (soon to be Aspris), our experts provide high-quality mental health support within friendly, welcoming and modern environments at our wellbeing centres located in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Recognising the signs of mental health conditions and acting upon those can be daunting, however, our experienced clinicians are here to help.

In this blog, you can meet some of our team, find out more about what conditions they treat, and learn about what to expect from a visit to one of our wellbeing centres. 

Clinician name: Dr Shweta Misra - Psychologist

Do you feel the stigma regarding mental health has changed over recent years?

While we have come a long way with normalizing discussions about mental healthcare and showing different versions of it in the media, we have significant lengths to go to remove the stigma and to increase access to mental healthcare. We continue to see mental healthcare as a response to problems, rather than something recommended for everyone as a way to improve life in general. If we are able to alter this understanding, it will not only further remove the stigma, but it will also encourage people to seek out help before they are in crisis.

Why is it important to be aware of your mental health and wellbeing?

According to the WHO:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

Thus, the equal status given to mental health and keeping it at par with physical health is an indication of how mental health affects various facets of our life. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.

 

Clinician name: Dr Ozan Akbas - Clinical Psychologist

When should people consider getting professional support for mental health issues?

Most of us go through struggles and hardships every day. It is most likely that each of us have gone through a bad day where we feel anxious and depressed. But that does not mean we need professional help. Need for professional help arises when these bad days start to take longer than a good day. Feeling stressed, low or alienated for most of the day and continually, might take its toll on both your physical and mental health. Especially if these start to interfere with one’s daily life such as relationships and work, it might be therefore a good idea to seek consultation from a professional.

One should be cautious if one feels their usual load of work has become increasingly overwhelming for them to handle, feels constantly tired, loses interest in things that they used to enjoy, socially withdraws from close relationships, starts to be more interested with anxious thoughts and feelings rather than what is actually happening on the outside. These are the most commonly seen symptoms in people who might benefit from mental health services.

How does an initial consultation work?

During the initial consultation, the clinician searches for a cluster of symptoms that defines best what the person is going through. This is essential because this will define the expert’s recommendation for what they believe the patient will benefit from. Through discussion and agreement, a treatment plan is tailored according to the needs of the patient. Through mutual understanding and trust, the client can start their quest for a better and complete life. 

 

Clinician name: Dr Catherine Musa - Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist

What are the benefits of receiving mental health treatment/support and how does it help to change people’s lives?

Mental health treatment will help you cope with different symptoms of your mental health issues such as poor sleep, anxiety or panic attacks, loss of motivation, sadness and irritability. However, it can also improve your general quality of life by helping you feel stronger in the face of challenges, build relationship skills, heal past trauma, handle strong emotions like fear, grief or anger and strengthen your self-confidence. Moreover, mental health therapy can help you figure out your goals in life and the way to achieve them, often by changing self-defeating behaviours and enhancing your problem-solving skills.

How does the treatment you have provided change a person’s life?

I have been working in mental health as a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist for over 25 years, and have therefore witnessed recovery in many patients.

Psychotherapy has helped my patients/clients manage their performance anxiety and succeed in their exams, build meaningful relationships, resolve family conflicts, deal with grief, overcome their social phobia and speak in public, make friends more easily, overcome their fears of different situations such as taking a plane, driving, taking an elevator or just travelling. 

Psychotherapy has helped my patients become more assertive in everyday life and learn to manage stress at the workplace. It has helped children that I have treated resolve their eating and sleeping problems, stop bedwetting, overcome their shyness and manage their emotions.

Successful therapy will help clients restore optimal social and emotional functioning, and be able to express their true self.

What are the conditions you treat?

I provide treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. This includes mood disorders, among which are depression and bipolar disorder and all the anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, simple phobias, social anxiety, OCD, and general anxiety disorder. I also treat post-traumatic stress disorder and adjustment disorders.

The common symptoms of anxiety include:

Some common symptoms of anxiety disorders are excessive worrying about minor problems, expecting the worst outcomes in every situation or fearing other people’s negative judgement, trouble falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night, or sometimes both. Some anxiety disorders can lead to panic attacks, short episodes of extreme fear with physical symptoms such as difficulty breathing, heart racing, feeling faint and fearing death or loss of control. OCD, another anxiety disorder, may involve obsessions about hygiene or safety or even just making mistakes, and will lead to a lot of checking behaviour or rituals such as excessive cleaning.

Some common symptoms of depression include:

Symptoms of depression are numerous and include sadness, self-criticism, guilt, loss of motivation and loss of pleasure in everyday activities, tiredness, poor sleep and loss of appetite.

Some common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include:

Post-traumatic stress disorder can give very disturbing symptoms. This includes re-experiencing the traumatic event through flashbacks or nightmares. For example, severe distress in face of, and avoidance of, anything related to trauma, emotional dissociation (feeling numb, distant or isolated from others), partial amnesia and others.

What would I say to a person who is anxious about seeking treatment?

As I client, you may feel concerned by the need to feel safe and respected in treatment. If you're worried, you can ask about confidentiality. Usually though, it's understood that a therapist respects your privacy, and that group members do too if you're meeting in a group. Therapy should address your needs, goals, concerns and desires. If you're going to be talking to someone about your most personal thoughts, you want to feel comfortable.

You can think about what traits might make you feel more comfortable with a therapist. For example, would you prefer to see a man or woman, someone older or younger, someone from your cultural background, someone with a style that's more formal or friendly.

Moreover, therapy will work best if there is a partnership between you and the therapist so you also need to take an active part in your sessions. You will set your goals for treatment. Think about whether there are certain behaviours or issues you care about most. Also keep an open mind throughout therapy. Be willing to consider new ways of behaving and thinking that might improve the quality of your life. We all resist change, so don't be surprised if you are tempted to quit right before some real changes happen.

Booking an appointment

It's easy to book an appointment with our friendly and experienced clinicians. If you’d like to take the first step towards improving your mental health and wellbeing, please click here.