S.P.E.A.K Stands Up For Mental Healthcare (and for My Bipolar Friend)
A few years ago, I discovered something about a friend of mine: I found out she was suffering from a bipolar mental disorder. We were taking an introduction to psychology course together in university and so the subject of mental healthcare in Kuwait naturally came up which also naturally led to her admitting to her own personal ordeals with the system and with having to grapple with a bipolar disorder in Kuwait.
She shared with me her frightening bouts of suicidal notions that were, for the most part, completely beyond her control. She shared with me the endless battle she faces with her psychiatrist as they try to find the right “cocktail” medication to help her keep relatively stable. She shared with me the extreme difficulties she faces with completing her degree while under the influence of these heavy, mixed, and irregular bipolar episodes.
She also shared with me how almost all of her extended family members, friends, and even her professors tended to brush off any cries for help, and simply decided to treat her legitimately medical illness as a non-excusable dramatization which they were just forced to tolerate.
She let me know about the endlessly long and ultimately fruitless road she and her parents had to go through in order to try and secure real, useful medical support through the Ministry of Health (she’s Kuwaiti). Due to a very lacking governmental support system when it comes to mental healthcare, my friend and her family were forced to go it alone and look elsewhere for medical guidance and support.
I’m honestly beyond baffled by the maze of half eaten cookies people in Kuwait have to follow in order to get legitimate mental health treatment (never mind affording it). In Kuwait, mental patients (and their families) have to navigate a completely uncoordinated system all on their own when the reality is that they’re the ones least capable of doing so.
Identifying the illness, knowing what kind of treatments to try, finding a psychiatrist, a therapist, and whatever other treatment methods you’re going to try, then paying for most of it yourself: these are all things that, for the most part, my friend and her parents had to figure out and provide completely by themselves. I can’t imagine any other serious medical patient having to go through such an ordeal without hardly any form of outside assistance.
The reason I bring up this whole story is because tomorrow, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. So if there’s ever a time to talk about how Kuwait needs to be more aware and educated about what mental health truly means its now.
Thankfully the S.P.E.A.K organization (Standing for Psychological Education and Awareness in Kuwait) was created for the sole purpose of doing just that. Creating an open forum for people to both ask and answer questions about the realities of both living with and treating mental illnesses is something which is very necessary to enhancing Kuwait’s social and medical environment. Removing the stigma and building truly compassionate care and support around this issue is an increasingly vital change that Kuwait needs to make if it hopes to make any kind of progress both on the medical and the societal fronts.
This year the S.P.E.A.K organization is holding a CSR (corporate social responsibility) event in Salwa Al-Sabah Hall both on October 10th and 11th. The event will feature experts form Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as Kuwaiti mental health experts. It is both open to professionals and the general public in the hopes of creating a conducive learning environment for everyone.
If you can, please be sure to stop by at this event and learn more about what true mental healthcare is supposed to look like, listen to people’s experiences, and help make Kuwait both more aware and better equipped to provide the compassionate care that this medical issue deeply requires.
All my love!