Changing perceptions: breaking down stigma
While mental health awareness has significantly improved in the UAE, stigma remains a core issue. A local survey on mental health stigma reveals high levels of shame associated with seeking support for mental health (58.9%). Other common barriers to seeking help include thinking that 'the disease will go by itself' (60.1%) and believing that they don't have a problem (54.5%).1
Stigma surrounding mental illness in the Middle East region is highly prevalent, however attitudes vary by country. According to the Arab Youth Survey conducted in 2019, young people in the GCC are more likely to be accepting of mental health issues, with 62% saying that mental health issues 'were a normal thing,' compared with just 33% in North Africa.2
Globally, Arabic online searches for "how to improve my mental health" have grown by 1,100% in the past five years, indicating increased awareness and acceptance of mental health challenges.
That’s why it is our shared responsibility to assess our biases, breakdown barriers, and strive for a more inclusive, empathetic world where women and mothers feel safe and encouraged to talk about mental health.
1. Mohamed Ibrahim, O. H., Ibrahim, R. M., Al-Tameemi, N. K., & Riley, K. (2020). Challenges associated with mental health management: Barriers and consequences. Saudi pharmaceutical journal : SPJ : the official publication of the Saudi Pharmaceutical Society, 28(8), 971–976. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsps.2020.06.018
2. Consumer Business Intelligence. (2021). Understanding Consumer Pain Points. Presentation.