A resource to support good mental health and wellbeing for the people of Qatar
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Types of Medical & Psychological Support

Medication, Psychotherapy and Lifestyle Changes

The good news is that mental illness is treatable and range of effective treatments are available. Different people benefit from a range of treatment options to manage their symptoms and recover.


Most people benefit from a combination of interventions including:


  • Psychol​ogical Therapy: Psychotherapies can help people learn new ways of thinking, practice positive behaviors and take active steps to cope with symptoms. 
  • Medication: In some cases, medication can help people to manage their mental illness and assist them to engage with the psychological therapy. A physician might prescribe medication to help with the treatment of mental illness, just like any physical illness. 
  • Lifestyle Changes: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help a person recover from a mental illness and manage symptoms. 

Although each condition has its own specific characteristics, most people respond well to psychological treatments and/or medication. Treatments combining both psychological therapy and medication often have better long-term results.


Psychological Therapy and Support

There are different types of psychological therapies available including: 

  • Counselling - gives people the chance to talk through everyday issues that may be causing mental health problems and to develop strategies for resolving them. 
  • Psychotherapy - can be more intensive than counselling, although these terms are often used interchangeably. It often looks at how past experience may be affecting a person's life now. It may involve delving deeply into early experiences and key relationships. This may take more time, although shorter more focused ways of doing this have also been developed. Therapy may also involve gradually exposing a person to situations that triggers their symptoms.


Types of Psychotherapy include:


  • Cognitive therapy, sometimes called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), addresses the way a person thinks and how this can affect mental health. It teaches skills to identify patterns of thinking and behaviour that are causing the problems and change them. 
  • Mindfulness is a variation of CBT focusing on changing the relationship between the individual and their thoughts using meditation. It can help people be 'mindful' of their thoughts and break out of patterns of negative thinking.
  • Guided self-help is usually based on CBT methods and aims to help people understand the nature of their mental illness and equip them with the necessary skills to cope with it. This works by educating people to challenge unhelpful thinking and evaluate their symptoms.        
  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT) - focuses on how a person relates and behaves towards others. It can help to build a better self-image and communicate more effectively with others. ​         
  • Play Therapy - is generally employed with young children from age 3-11 and provides a way for them to express their experiences and feelings through play.


Access to Psychological therapies in Qatar is in development and some of the above therapies are currently available locally (Service Directory)


Online therapies (also known as E-therapies) follow the same principal as face-to-face therapy such as CBT, with the added benefit of being more accessible. Most e-therapies can help a person to identify and change patterns of thinking and behavior. Individuals can work through the program by themselves or with help from a trained health professional. This can be via telephone, email, text, or instant messaging.


People seeking help are encouraged to check that any private therapist they consult is registered with a professional body.


Medical Treatment

This includes all medicines that can be prescribed to treat different types of mental health conditions or to reduce the symptoms. In some cases, health professionals will recommend medication, either on their own or in combination with psychological therapies.


"I took medication for six months. It helped lift the fog and gave me the energy I needed to tackle the root cause of my depression.

There is no shame in taking medication to treat an illness."


Medication for Mental Illnesses

Medication will not always be the first choice, especially if a person is affected by a mild form of mental illness. There are different types of psychiatric medicines available. Trained health professionals will explain the medication they believe is the best for the person and why. What the health professional prescribes will depend on the type and severity of mental illness and if one medication does not work doctors may prescribe something else or combine different medications. In some cases, a hospital stay may be required so a person can receive treatment and care under medical supervision.


Medication can play an important role in the treatment of some mental illnesses as well as treating associated or underlying issues.


"After a couple of months where I could barely function, let alone take care of my kids, I accepted that medication was what I needed to get well.

It took me a while to come to grips with that."


Frequently Asked Questions:


Q. Why take medication?

A.  Generally, psychiatric medicines can help reduce the symptoms or help a person to cope better. The medication offered depends on diagnosis, symptoms and severity of the condition.


Q. How long do you take medication for? 

A.  This depends on the diagnosis, symptoms and severity of the condition. For some mild to moderate conditions a person might only be expected to take the medication for a limited period of time. For repeated episodes (such as in the case of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) a person might be advised to stay on the medication for a longer time.


Q. How long does medication take to work?

A. It usually takes two or more weeks before   medication starts to work. Therefore, patients need to allow enough time to see if is going to be effective. It is important to take the medication for the length of time recommended by your health professional. Coming off medication too soon (even if the person feels better) can lead to a relapse (reoccurrence of symptoms) or a severe side effect. Stopping medication ​should only be done gradually, on a doctor's recommendation and under medical supervision.


Q. Who can prescribe medication?  

A. Medication can only be prescribed by a mental health trained family physician or a psychiatrist. 

Q. What are the side effects? 

A.  Medications do work for many people but like any other medication they can have side effects. Trained health professionals should discuss these with their patients as part of the consultation. People who experience problems associated with their medicine or have any concerns, should speak to their health professional as soon as possible.


Lifestyle Changes

People can take an active role in looking after their mental health. Self-care and a healthy lifestyle can assist with recovery, particularly if the symptoms are mild. Together with adherence to a treatment plan and identifying someone to talk to, adapting a more active and healthy lifestyle can be beneficial.


For specific information on treatments for children and adolescents, click here


Who can help?

There are a range of mental health services available in Qatar, where the following health professionals are available for consultation:

Family Physicians or General Practitioners (GPs)

Family Physicians or GPs are the best starting point for someone seeking professional help. They can check for any physical health problem or medication that may be contributing to the signs and symptoms of a mental health condition, make a diagnosis, discuss available treatment, prescribe medication or if required make a referral to a mental health specialist such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.


"A primary health care center is less crowded than hospitals; so I can go there anytime I want and I would feel that there is no stress because it is a calmer place"


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have undergone further training to specialize in mental health. They can make medical and psychiatric assessments, conduct medical tests, provide therapy and prescribe medication. When hospital admission is required, a psychiatrist will be in charge of the person's treatment.


"I took an appointment with a Psychiatrist who was very helpful and supportive. Her diagnosis helped me dramatically. Just by sitting and having a professional person listening to my concerns made a huge difference in my life"



Psychologists are mental health professionals who can provide psychological therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). Clinical psychologists specialize in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems.


Other mental health professionals

Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) are being developed in Qatar to support the care and recovery of patients and to work together with family physicians, GPs, psychiatrists and psychologists. For example, some social workers, nurses and occupational therapists have specialized training in mental health and work within MDTs.


Physiotherapists and exercise specialists may also work alongside mental health professionals to assist people with mobility, pain management or lifestyle related issues which may be impacting on their mental wellbeing.


Alongside medical treatment, religious services can also provide spiritual counseling and support to people with mental health conditions and also for their families.


Please note that in order for a mental health professional to practice in Qatar, they must be registered and licensed by the Qatar Council for Health Practitioners (QCHP).

"If you are concerned about your mental health, it is important to seek advice as soon as possible from a trained mental health professional"​​​​