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SEHA to host 2nd Abu Dhabi Integrated Mental Health Conference – A Boost to Mental Health Reforms in the Emirate

SEHA to host 2nd Abu Dhabi Integrated Mental Health Conference – A Boost to Mental Health Reforms in the Emirate

Thursday, January 20, 2022/ Editor -  


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2022 edition of hybrid conference, held in collaboration with the Department of Health, will feature an array of mental health topics in line with new model of care

Abu Dhabi, 20 Jan 2022:  Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the UAE’s largest healthcare network, in collaboration with the Department of Health (DoH), is set to host the 2nd Abu Dhabi Integrated Mental Health Conference on the 28th and 29th of January 2022 held both virtually and physically at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

The two-day hybrid conference is a part of SEHA’s efforts towards driving mental health reforms across Abu Dhabi. With the prime objective of promoting the integration of psychiatry into primary care, the event will be attended by eminent clinical practitioners, academics and mental health professionals.  
Dr. Anwar Sallam, Group Chief Medical and Clinical Officer, SEHA, said: “There is no denying that an efficient and consistent effort is needed to support and empower patients living with mental illnesses in the region. As the UAE’s largest healthcare network, it is our duty to ensure the development and implementation of reforms aimed at the upliftment of mental health across the region. I am truly happy with the scientific program that has been put together – it is relevant, thought-provoking and insightful. I strongly believe that all attendees will benefit significantly from the event. SEHA will continue to contribute heavily towards driving a much-needed change in the mental health space.” 

The conference will bring together a number of prominent international speakers. Attending experts will include Prof. Norman Sartorius, former Director of the World Health Organization's Division of Mental Health, former President of both the World Psychiatric Association and European Psychiatric Association; Dr. Brian Hurley, Addiction Physician from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health; Dr. Ayaz Virji from the Health Center NYU Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Campus; and Dr. Deanne Kashiwagi, Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, among others.
A key highlight of the event will be a session on the DoH’s new mental health model of care to be delivered by Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, Director of Public Health at the Department of Health. The new model is a testament to Abu Dhabi’s dedication to making a significant improvement to the lives of patients suffering with mental illnesses. 

The Abu Dhabi Center for Public Health, represented by Her Excellency Dr. Omniyat Al Hajeri, Executive Director of the Community Health Sector, shall present valuable information around integrated awareness raising efforts and educational campaigns embedded within the Mental Health Care Model. The talk will encompass how strengthened multi-stakeholder action can help positively shape the community’s beliefs and behaviors towards wellness and mental health, leading to reduced stigma and increased help seeking attitudes, thus early identification.

A prominent and influential psychiatrist, Prof. Norman Sartorius will kick off the conference as the event’s keynote speaker, presenting on ‘The Present State and the Future of Psychiatry’. Looking beyond the brain, Dr. Siddiq Anwar, Consultant Nephrologist at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, will talk about renal diseases and how they impair psychosocial functions.

A variety of mental health topics, ranging from pediatric psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, women’s mental health, substance abuse and mood/psychotic disorders, will be covered over the two days. The aim of the discussions is to provide compelling solutions to improve the quality of life of patients living with mental illnesses. Noteworthy sessions include Challenges in Integrating Mental Health; Management of Schizophrenia in Primary Care; Perinatal Psychiatry in Primary Care; Depression and Anxiety in Children; and PTSD/Fear of Remission in Cancer Survivors.

Dr. Brian Hurley will be speaking about substance abuse and the importance of addressing it early in order to prompt intervention. Starting the conversation in a primary physician’s office will be a core focus in his segment as SEHA explores the integration of screening and referral processes in order to combat the illness. 

Dr. Nahida Niaz Ahmed, Consultant Psychiatrist at Ambulatory Healthcare Services and Chair of Behavioral Health Council at SEHA, said: “SEHA continues to support mental health reforms across Abu Dhabi. We recognize that there is a growing need to integrate psychiatry into mainstream healthcare and to overcome obstacles that keep us from matching contemporary care models being implemented across the world. Just as nursing and allied health are backbone of the treatment process, psychotherapy is the pillar for recovery in psychiatric illnesses and a subject that must not be overlooked. We hope that this event ignites these poignant conversations and the global nature of the conference puts Abu Dhabi’s efforts towards mental health care on the map.”

In addition to serving as a platform for groundbreaking research in mental health, the conference will also focus on studying the impact of mental health in primary care with attendees made aware of new guidelines through immersive lectures. Together with the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), one of the workshops will focus on mobilizing training programs for staff, focusing in upskilling primary care nurses and physicians with basic skills in Psychotherapy. This will be delivered by Dr. Ayaz Virji, Executive Medical Director of the Health Center at NYU Abu Dhabi and Dr. Vedrana Mladina, who is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Director of Counseling at NYUAD Health Center.


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