The mental health sector in Egypt is currently working on its awareness and progressing towards providing proper healthcare to all its citizens in all regions. This Mediterranean country is still considered underdeveloped in terms of mental health awareness compared to the west. A nationwide survey conducted by psychologists in 2018 resulted in 25% of the population suffering and enduring numerous mental health issues, namely, anxiety, depression, drug, and substance abuse. It showed that the rural regions had the highest rates of mental health problems compared to their urban counterparts.
[Vamik] Volkan says we have a “second skin,” a secondary layer of personhood. In addition to our sense of self, we often have an extended identity: our group identity. — Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D.
Though higher authorities and governments were notified and have said to be implementing plans to provide access to proper treatment, the developments seem to be too slow in adequately caring for the people of Egypt. Egypt’s mental health sector still suffers from low funding, material, and human resources. Not to mention the scarcity of proper health facilities to treat citizens that needs full care.
Another issue Egypt faces in the mental health sector is the lack of trained professionals. There is still a growing stigma against mental health care and the idea of the illness that pushes Egyptians to believe mental health is a myth. The government promise to promote awareness, but even until now, citizens of Egypt still lack proper treatment and education on the issue.
Depression, Anxiety, And Substance Abuse
Common mental health illnesses, as stated above, are prevalent all across the globe. Sadly it is also the three major health issues in Egyptians today. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse cause the most impact through the significant harm they bring in different parts of Egypt mainly; mortality, morbidity, and financial destruction.
- 43.7% of Egyptians suffer from anxiety disorders.
- 30.1% suffer from depression linked to drug/substance abuse.
Often what causes us suffering is not a particular adverse event, but our opinion about it. We can make a difficult situation much worse by the attitude we bring to it. — Susan K Perry Ph.D.
What Has The Government Done?
- Mental Health Awareness Campaigns
Egypt has attempted to launch campaigns, increasing awareness of mental health issues. The advocacies are usually collaborations with NGOs and governments to reach out to the marginalized and in need. Egypt has also tried to launch awareness through the media – television shows and movies.
- Law For Proper Care Of Mental Health Patients
Egypt’s parliament passed a mental health law in 2009 that ensures the protection of the rights of the patients who suffer from different mental health problems. The law also included a bill of rights for mental health facilities, and the patients’ right to consent to be treated or admitted into these facilities.
Why Isn’t Egypt’s Health Sector Providing Proper Care Nationwide?
- Lack of trained mental health professionals
- Low government spending
- Lack of facilities
- Negative stigma towards mental health
- Failure of the government to see it as a priority
Though the government still aims to improve. It is evident the citizens of Egypt still need more awareness and treatment, especially in rural areas. Compared to Western countries where people continuously erase the negative stigma around mental health, and where healthcare and awareness are prominent, the Egyptian government still needs to go a long way to provide citizens with the exact treatment they need. Another issue growing is the increase in anxiety and depression in teachers and young students all over the country. Having a mental health professional in each institution will help in catering the teachers and students in need.
“Treat others the way they deserve to be treated.” Let’s call it the “New Golden Rule.” What this implies is that we should judge others to assess what kind of treatment they deserve, and then treat them accordingly. —
Mental health awareness wasn’t as prevalent in the past years. But throughout the 2000s era, the stigma around it has completely changed. People all over the world used to brush off deep-rooted emotions and traumas because there was no one else around them speaking out on issues such as theirs. Now that it is a global issue, starting with first world countries through pop culture, social media, and celebrities speaking out on their experiences with mental illnesses, there are more outlets for people who need proper treatment and health care.
This awareness is still slowly making its way to smaller countries such as Egypt, but they still have a long way to go. The people of Egypt deserve the same treatment people of western countries receive, precisely because they suffer a higher percentage of it.
More and more campaigns are being launched to bring awareness to this, and facilities and workforce still have yet to be provided equally. Egypt has a long way to go before being able to properly attend to the citizens that truly need the government’s help and attention. Multiple NGOs continue to fight for their rights to proper treatment from higher authorities. Hopefully, this makes a significant mark to bring attention to the Egyptian government and improve the mental health of its people.