2.5m at risk of psychological disorder in Jordan

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AMMAN — Psychologists estimate that 2.5 million people in Jordan are afflicted with mental disorders, basing their rationale on a World Health Organization (WHO) study which contended that one in four people worldwide is blighted with a mental illness.اضافة اعلان

The WHO report, published on the group’s website, showed that the prevalence of a psychological disorder was one in eight people in 2019. But the rate soared to one in three people, or 28 percent, right after the COVID-19 pandemic, partly because of stress caused by global economic crises, lockdowns, and isolation.

Dr Nael Al-Adwan, head of the Jordanian Psychological Association (JPA), cited a summary of global studies on psychological disorders at the opening of the JPA’s sixth international conference last week.

The meeting was held in Amman’s Landmark Hotel, where Adwan gave a specific number for Jordan. “About 2.5 million Jordanians are exposed to a psychological disorder,” he told the gathering. He did not provide details.

But Dr Alaa Al-Frokh, a senior specialist in psychotherapy and addiction treatment and the JPA’s vice president, said that there are no studies specialized in the psychological aspect in Jordan to determine such a percentage.

“So according to the scientific standard, what applies to the world applies to Jordan”, he explained. He told the meeting in a speech that Adwan’s estimate is a representation of the 25 percent stated in international studies in the field of psychiatry.

Frokh pointed out that the most common psychological disorder in Jordan, according to his observation, is anxiety in various forms, whether generalized, or with episodic panic attacks, different types of phobias, including social or specific phobias, and/or depressive disorders.

He asserted that the state and society must give special attention to psychological health. He referred to a government provision of free services for all those who hold a Jordanian national number by treating them free of charge in psychiatric clinics.

Adwan, who is also the director of the Health Insurance Department at the Ministry of Health, said in an earlier statement reported by Al-Mamlaka TV that there are 52 state-run clinics providing psychological care scattered across the Kingdom.

According to Adwan’s statement, there are 135 psychiatrists registered with the JPA, in addition to 40 specialists in psychiatry in the Ministry of Health.
The psychological impact of government decisions, such as the curfew, was not taken into account, which negatively affected the psychological safety of citizens,
Frokh said challenges in the sector stem from legislation, laws as well as the social stigma of taking advice from a psychiatric specialist. He said the JPA asked the government during the COVID-19 pandemic to have a psychiatrist sit in a committee charged with monitoring cases under the pandemic which fell on deaf ears. He said the JPA sought to assess the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of citizens.

“The government did not respond,” he said. “The psychological impact of government decisions, such as the curfew, was not taken into account, which negatively affected the psychological safety of citizens,” he said.

Frokh pointed to the culture of shame being one of the obstacles which may keep people away from visiting a psychiatric clinic. But he added that through increased awareness, the situation has begun to improve slightly. “The society still needs more awareness and education in this regard,” he noted.

Another factor is the common misconception that psychiatric medication causes addiction, which could cause a relapse for people who stop taking the medication, according to Frokh, who dismissed such arguments, insisting on the safety of the drugs, if taken under the monitoring of a physician.

Frokh said there was a shortage of specialists providing psychological care. He called for the gap to be filled and said that Jordan also needs to increase the number of providers of psychological care and services.

Dr Ziyad Al-Zoubi, head of the Jordanian Medical Association, confirmed the percentage stated by Adwan as representative of the situation locally.

Zoubi, who said he attended last week’s conference, said that the conditions that lead to psychological disorders and diseases are namely the bad economic situation domestically, malnutrition, and unemployment and its impact on the individual.

Others include wars and the unstable political and economic conditions in the region, Zoubi said, adding that as a result, there was an increase in drug addiction, he added.

Clinical psychologist Lourice Khoury said that the presence of personality disorders causes anxiety and depression. They affect the individual’s life, behavior, and dealings with the surrounding environment, professionally and personally. He said the condition may escalate to reach a critical point, leading to the patient inflicting self-harm by committing suicide, or hurting other.

Khoury said that she believed that the rate of 25 percent of Jordanians suffering from a mental disorder is reasonable, and that it may even exceed that in reality.

She clarified that the treatment period may take long, ranging from several weeks to several months, depending on the disorder. This may inflict a high cost on patients, which may lead some to reject treatment.

“We must raise people’s awareness to accept the idea of a psychotherapist and psychiatrist,” she said. “There is progress compared to previous years, but the idea that any needy person is labeled in the society as being insane may lead those in need of treatment to refrain from seeking it.”

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