Topics of mental illness and health remain a taboo, and are not discussed in many local communities in the country, and that puts a wall between the issue and the rest of the society. But that is all about to change as a group of experienced psychologists have joined hands and formed a team that is set to raise awareness on the matter.
Local psychologist Abeer Al Mujaini, who is one of the founders of the “Psychology of Youth Muscat” initiative, developed the concept, along with co-founder psychologist Suhair Al Amri, when they realised the gap in mental health awareness among members of society. The initiative targets the youth in the hope to empower them and educate them on the matter. It also focuses on sharing evidenced-based knowledge on mental health issues from a platform of professionals in the field, which consists of qualified psychiatrists and psychologists.
Since its establishment in June 2017, the project has received great feedback with youngsters being hungry and curious to learn more on mental health. “In our line of work, we often see stigma and misjudgement for those suffering from mental health problems and we see that by establishing a group of psychologists and a programme aimed to talk about general problems, we could have more presence in the Omani society,” said Abeer, adding that “in a way, we fight against the stigma by speaking freely and openly about well being and giving a chance to introduce skills used in modern psychotherapy”.
The initiative is set to not only raise awareness, it will also introduce skills for well-being, provide a positive and welcoming platform to ask psychologists and psychiatrists serious issues about mental health, and encourage youth to seek help if needed and to enhance general well being using modern scientific practices. “Change begins with us and if we want Oman’s youth to be more aware about such issues, we will simply do something about it,” said Abeer.
She and her team have planned a total of 11 workshops that will focus on a variety of relevant topics, such as successful personality, mindfulness, career counselling, fear, student mental health, art therapy, psychological first aid, and music therapy. The workshops are all free of charge and open to the public.
The team has already held a number of workshops at the Modern College of Business and Sciences, including a workshop by Her Highness Sayyida Basma Al Said on Modern Psychology, where she addressed psychotherapy using art, poetry, and music, a seminar on befriending fear presented by Dr Amaal Ambusaidi, a workshop on psychological flexibility and healthy living by Dr Alya Sultan, a workshop on career counselling by Majida Al Darmaki, a workshop on personality and success by Suhair Al Amri, and an art therapy workshop on stress reduction using painting and music.
The future seems bright for this much-needed initiative, with major plans ahead. “We hope our workshops will inspire more to join our team and to have more programmes in the future that could be tailored to schools and colleges in the region,” she expressed. If interested in acquiring knowledge about mental health, you can register through their social media page on: (Instagram: @shabab_oman_psychology)