Children and adolescents with chronic physical health conditions are vulnerable to poor mental health outcomes. The measurement of mental health literacy of health professionals working with such populations is important because of their role in promoting early and appropriate help-seeking. This study sought to determine the beliefs regarding the causes of and risks factors for three types of mental illnesses amongst health professionals in United Arab Emirates.Method: A culturally validated mental health literacy survey presenting three vignettes of fictional characters meeting diagnostic criteria for post traumatic stress disorder, depression with suicidal thoughts and psychosis was distributed. The survey measured health care professionals’ beliefs regarding the causes of and risk factors for these disorders.Results: A total of 317 health care professional (>90% nurses) were surveyed from across the UAE. Although 43.8% correctly endorsed exposure to a ‘traumatic event’ as the most likely cause for developing post traumatic stress disorder, there was a more limited understanding of the contribution of biopsychosocial factors to the development of the mental illness, particularly for psychosis. Participant socio-demographic variables were associated with attributions of religious or spiritual beliefs and personal weakness as causal and/or vulnerability factors in the development of depression with suicidal thoughts and psychosis.Conclusions: Efforts to improve mental health systems and health care providers in UAE and other similar Middle Eastern countries requires targeted mental health literacy programs that seek to integrate biopsychosocial models of mentalillness and their treatment with the positive aspects of religious and cultural beliefs that are dominant in this region.
Slewa-Younan, S., Nguyen, T., Al-Yateem, N., Rossiter, R., & Robb, W. (2020). Causes and risk factors for common mental illnesses: The beliefs of paediatric hospital staff in the United Arab Emirates. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 14(35), . https://doi.org/10.1186/s13033-020-00367-6