Many low-income workers in Qatar end up losing their jobs due to psychiatric disorders resulting from work-related problems, according to a senior official of the Psychiatry Department at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
Financial problems coupled with poor living conditions and difficult job circumstances have caused a rise in psychiatric disorders among unskilled and semi-skilled workers in the country.
However, the increasing financial pressure on middle-income families has not so far resulted in a rise in such cases in this segment of society, at least yet, according to Dr Suhaila A Ghuloum, Acting Head of the Department.
As for the middle-income segment, Ghuloum said her department had not seen an increase in cases so far. "People suffering from stress and anxiety do not necessarily go to a psychiatrist. Many tend to manage such problems on their own. However, financial difficulties can aggravate the condition of people who already suffer from stress-related disorders and this can delay recovery."
The worst affected among the laborers are the newly-recruited workers who fail to adjust to their work environment and find their hopes shattered when they are forced to take up lowly-paid jobs here and have to put up with atrocious living conditions.
"A main reason behind the rise in the cases is the increasing number of foreign workers being recruited to the country. Some of the victims may have past records of psychiatric disorders, but they don't admit it for fear of losing their job," said Ghuloum.
She said most of these patients are sent back to their countries by the sponsors after they are discharged from the hospital. "We have a group of social workers who liaise between these workers and their sponsors to ensure that they are paid all dues, in case of repatriation," she added.
The Department has recorded an increase of 1,403 cases in 2007 compared to the previous year. A total of 17,882 cases were reported last year.
"Our outpatient section gets about 70 to 120 cases every day, of varying nature. Most of them are related to schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, stress, and bipolar disorder," she said.
The Department has 73 beds, which she said was enough to meet the current requirements since all cases reported to the outpatient section do not require hospital admission.
Source: The Peninsula