For Her Highness Sayyida Basma Al Said, founder of the Whispers of Serenity Clinic, when someone opens up about their mental health problems, it is half the battle won. Voicing her thoughts in unison with this year’s World Health Day that focuses on depression, Sayyida urges people to break the silence on the illness. And when it comes to helping people struggling with mental health related concerns, she is always at the forefront.
“Those who suffer from mental health problems should know that they are not alone, as everybody goes through this at some point in life. It is important to speak out, instead of feeling bad about it,” is a loud and strong message that Sayyida promotes to encourage people to break the stigma and seek help and the correct treatment.
“This year, World Health Day decided to focus on depression and emphasised the core motto, ‘Let’s Talk’, as it is very important to talk about depression. In 2012, at Whispers of Serenity Clinic, we had a programme called Let’s Talk that also encouraged people to share. Unless you share, others will never know what is going on inside of you and can never be able to help or support you in the right way,” said Sayyida, raising concerns about the rising cases of mental health issues in Oman.
Having studied in Jordan, and later at international universities such as Harvard University, she went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Australia and later had a chance to work with refugees at the North Perth Migrant Resource Centre, counselling refugees and immigrants in Perth.
Recalling what drew her interest to mental health issues, Sayyida said that her interests in this field began in childhood and later, after studying psychology, and she hoped to open a mental health clinic. “When I used to meet people, they would ask me, ‘Do you have your own clinic?’, ‘Can we come and see you later?’ This gave me the idea of starting my own clinic, where I could help more people,” she added. After working in Sultan Qaboos University Hospital for 11 years, Sayyida decided to start a clinic of her own, called Whispers of Serenity. “I wanted to spread more awareness through media and through my clinic, as my goal was to extensively spread the word on mental health,” she said.
Whispers of Serenity Clinic, located in Azaiba, is a place where a more holistic approach is taken towards mental health. From therapies and counselling, to the treatment provided to patients, Sayyida ensures that timely help reaches out to those who really need assistance. Discussing the challenges in dealing with mental health issues in Oman, Sayyida said that the obstacles are not only found in Oman, but also throughout the world.
“The issues here in Oman are that we need more awareness about it. From psychologist, psychiatrist, psycho therapist and counsellors, there are many people now in this field who are dealing with mental health concerns,” said Sayyida, while raising doubts about whether everyone is qualified enough to deal with the sensitivities of dealing with mental issues.
“People who have studied psychology should be the ones who should be taking up the cases. Those who have done short courses should not be dealing with this at all. Psychology is totally a different thing, so we have to differentiate between who actually is authorised to talk about this and who isn’t. Help and treatment should come from the right person, because we are dealing with minds. What we need is more awareness from the right people,” Sayyida added, urging more people to volunteer for this cause. Currently, she is associated with a number of social initiatives and community services, making sure that when it comes to mental health and related despair, no one is left alone.
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