Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mental Health in Kuwait

Those of us from developed countries know that mental health concerns are easily addressed by a counselor or psychiatrist and there is no shame with that. In the states I worked for Riverside County Mental Health which dealt with child abuse and substance abuse so I know first hand the treatment provided by our Government even if you can't pay there are programs to help. Unfortunately in the Arab world mental health is a taboo no one wants to address.

There is rarely a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD here. It is said your child has problems and might be forced out of school. For children who are handicapped the government will pay the handicapped school over 5000 kd each for the child to attend. I can't say much about the teachers as I don't know if they are actually trained for special needs children or just a typical teacher dealing with them. My mother works at a school in Jahra. The owner owns a Handicapped school and also a bilingual school. The new idea is to integrate children who are "slow learners" into classes with "normal" children. The government also pays 5000 kd or more to the school for those kids. It's a good business.

The parents of these "slow learners" are trying everything to keep their kids out of the handicapped school because those children are labeled within society meaning they will not be treated as equal. It's unfortunate that their isn't a better mental health agency here that can provide testing and medication if needed without labeling these children.

There are drug users out there who might want to seek treatment but can't. If they go to the psychiatric clinic they are given a "red card" which means they are crazy. Once receiving this "red card" they cannot attend schools, get a job or live a normal life. It's better to hide your impairment than to seek treatment for it. There are private practices available but are way too expensive. My daughter was being bullied at school and decided to act out by hitting one of the kids. I feel that they severely punished her because we are American. The staff is usually intimidated by Kuwaiti families and won't say much.

The principal decided my daughter needed counseling in order to get back to school. Being civilized I took their advice and went to a counselor in Salmiya. I've worked with counselors and psychiatrists in the states so I know what to expect. The counselor sends my daughter out of the room and started asking me questions. HUH? I'm not the one needing the talk my daughter is the one. Needless to say I got rather ticked off and told her what I thought. It cost me 100 kd for that 30 minutes and she didn't say one word to my daughter. Of course she felt I would need to come back for a few more sessions. I saw children there and I wondered if she was taking advantage of their situation.

My daughter's school kept recommending the counselor so much I thought they might be getting a referral fee from them. How many other families are going to her for counseling and she is cheating them? The biggest thing in Kuwait is having a certificate, even if you don't know what the hell your doing as long as you have that paper you can be a doctor. I hope one day it gets better for the sake of the children, after all they are the future.

25 comments :

  1. Society crumbles when you appoint unqualified people for certain jobs. It's sends out the wrong message and no one benefits.

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  2. I must say that counselling has it uses, however medicating children for unmanageable but childishly normal behavior with powerful psychotropic drugs can truly negatively affect that child's future. Being a TA, I have seen "difficult" children medicated and non-medicated. I find the reality quite saddening...most of the children that were medicated end up with ugly fate whilst the non-medicated (if treated without psychotropics) seemed to fair better in life. It seems that, for instance, a simple eye exam or a complete diet remedies many difficult children. I have seen children diagnosed with bipolar disorder or ADHD and whose parents decided to pursue alternative means only to find out that their child has B12 deficiency or myopia. These are just personal observations of trained TA who interacts with children on a daily basis.

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  3. Thank you for bringing the issue of unqualified mental health providers to the public's attention. This phenomenon has reached a critical point in Kuwait with scores of children being at best misdiagnosed and mislabeled and at worst irreparably harmed by unscrupulous "amateurs" stalking the "market" for financial gain.

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  4. Thank you for bringing the issue of unqualified mental health providers to the public's attention. The problem of amateur "psychologists" out to make a killing in the Kuwait market has reached epidemic proportions over the past year. The unchecked proliferation of such practices leads to misdiagnosis and ineffective treatment at best and to irreparable harm at worst. Coupled with an organized campaign of misinformation about the counseling and assessment of children with academic issues, the risk of contracting with the wrong provider is very high. Parents should seek providers who are licensed educational psychologists, ask for their license numbers and check with the State licensing board before contracting for services.

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  5. Parents in need of services for their children should always ask to see the actual diplomas and licenses of persons claiming to possess doctorates and licenses to practice psychology. Parents should especially beware of recent "doctoral graduates" who also claim to be "licensed". A very important question to ask is "When did you get this degree/license?" Psychology licensing in North America and Europe involves the completion of a two year internship, one year of which must be post-doctoral, and the passing of national and statewide examinations. So there is really no way that "psychology licensing" can occur before obtaining a doctoral degree or less than one year after the doctoral degree is conferred--not to mention that all these requirements are next to impossible to fulfill without leaving Kuwait. The truth is that diploma mill degrees are illegal both here and elsewhere and ironically, Kuwait doesn't even have a psychology "licensing" board! Nevertheless,"licensed psychologist" has become the new catch-phrase. The past few months have seen the rise of this clever marketing ploy designed to divert the public's attention away from glaring inconsistencies regarding education, training, licensing and experience.

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  6. I have been trying to get some psychological help here and I can't find anywhere to get it. The private clinics are way too expensive for me and I am sure that I will not get any results. I saw two well known psychologists here and they were just awful! From what I know, a psychologist is not supposed to judge you and make you feel worse. One psychologist who is American actually told me "wow you really are messed up, if I was a girl your age I wouldn't wanna date you!" and "you are a wannabe." I need serious help cuz I am really scared for my future!

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  7. It is unprofessional for a psychologist to speak to any patient in such a derogatory manner. Such behavior may be deemed malpractice, especially since your condition has apparently worsened as a result. If the "psychologist" in question is licensed and/or a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), then you should seriously consider filing a complaint against them with the APA and/or their State licensing board. They probably think that practicing in Kuwait gives them immunity and that local patients have no recourse, but that is an incorrect assumption--

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  8. Unfortunately, individuals seeking mental health services in Kuwait must now also beware of the slick marketing tactics of the new breed of "entrepreneur psychologists". Such individuals promote themselves through advertisements stating that they are self-proclaimed "famous clinical psychologists" presiding over services provided by their staff. These self-promoters always seem to emphasize their business prowess over their presumed professional qualifications. But is this mixture of mental health service and entrepreneurial zeal really a good thing for the client? Consumers should not lose sight of the fact that the successful businessman strives to make as much money as possible, while the successful psychologist strives to provide the most effective treatment possible. Of course, providing effective treatment translates into less sessions and less fees for the psychologist,but the successful "entrepreneur" would want the client to keep coming back for more sessions to max-out his profits. The business model as applied to psychological service delivery is actually a disincentive for effective treatment and a great disservice to the client.

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  9. Unfortunately, for more than a year now, there has been a concerted push towards a kind of generic "psychology supermarket" approach to the treatment of school children's issues. Sadly, this "psychology supermarket" approach attempts to substitute quantity for quality in a vain attempt to seduce the mental health consumer into believing that "generic" brand is the same as the "name" brand. The main goal of the "psychology supermarket" approach is to convince the mental health consumer that the generic "provider" should command the same fees as the most reputable psychologists with existing practices and to eventually put them out of business, thereby "cornering the market" on psychology and giving them a monopoly on children's services in Kuwait.

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  10. Kuwait has 4 Licensed Psychologists and 1 of these is an Educational Psychologist. Psychologist Licensing requires several years of supervised Post-Doctoral clinical experience. American Psychological Association's Code of Ethics states that psychologists may not promote or encourage psychological testing by unqualified persons.

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  11. The death of Dr. Jaafar Behbehani has opened up a Pandora’s Box of ethical violations which continue to plague the mental health consumers in Kuwait. In August 2009 with the untimely passing of Dr. Jaafar Behbehani --Kuwait's pioneer of ethical psychological practice--harmful elements which he had personally held in check have been unleashed upon the community. Now almost two years later, not only is his life-long dream of ethical psychological practice going unrealized, but his personal legacy is in the process of being annexed by lesser individuals. Ironically, Dr. Jaafar's name is being used in the paid ads of those who seek to conjure up an aura of legitimacy through the arrogation of his noble legacy unto themselves. Kuwait's lack of psychologist licensing laws and the complete absence of professional regulation for psychologists has culminated in the current "crisis of confidence" for the future of psychology in the country--Professional misrepresentation, false advertising, harassment of colleagues, psychological testing and diagnosis by unqualified persons—to name just a few of the egregious ethical violations which have become commonplace. All the while, the perpetrators of these violations make a mockery of psychological ethics by mouthing their allegiance to the tenets of the American Psychological Association! Of course, such an ambitious undertaking would have been impossible without help from "doctors" of psychology, some of whom promote themselves as holders of equally unverifiable "licenses" from their “home countries”. So skilled are these individuals and their helpers in the avoidance of any responsibility for their actions and in the evasion of any sanctions that they continue to thrive and flourish unchecked at the expense of the local mental health consumer.

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  12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychologist

    Full membership with the American Psychological Association in United States and Canada requires doctoral training. Associate membership requires at least two years of postgraduate studies in psychology or approved related discipline. . . .Outside of government and academia, a professional in the U.S. or Canada must also hold a psychology license to either practice psychology or use the title "psychologist".[

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  13. Most recently a new “ethics” code has been disseminated as a local “alternative” to the otherwise universally accepted tenets of the American Psychological Association (APA) Code of Ethics for Psychologists. But instead of clarifying the issues, this new “ethics code” only adds to the confusion about the actual differences between psychologists and other types of mental health providers. In fact, its authors start off by explicitly mandating the “interchangeable” use of various titles like “counselor”, “clinician”, “therapist”, “psychotherapist”, “psychologist” and “professional”! So instead of defining “limits of competence”, it does away with the whole issue of “professional misrepresentation” by officially making it “ethical” for anyone in Kuwait to use the title of “Psychologist”!
    Upon reading this “ethics code” one is left with the distinct impression of being mentally coerced into accepting the premise that there is really no difference between a Psychologist (use of this title requires Licensing in USA and Canada) and someone who chooses to call themselves a “counselor”, “clinician”, “psychotherapist” or “therapist”—and that they are all equally “professional”. The problem is that nothing could be further from reality, since calling oneself a “professional” or even a “licensed professional” doesn’t magically turn you into one! In the real world, there are vast differences between the education, training, licensing and certification of various types of mental health providers.
    Last but not least, one of the stated “guiding principles” of this local “ethics code” is the “calculation of cost/benefit”or “profit motive”! (Needless to say, the APA Ethics Code does not include anything like this!) But if “profit motive” is allowed to prevail and the “lowest common denominator of mental health provider” is thrust upon us as the new norm, then “psychology” becomes a “business” instead of a profession and the mental health consumer will be the loser in more ways than one. The “profit motive” as applied to psychological service delivery in Kuwait dictates that the consumer be forced to pay top fees for the lowest level of service provider who in turn is willing to work for less for their “employer”—It is a win-win situation for the “business owner” who can charge high fees and pay low salaries but a lose-lose situation for the mental health consumer in Kuwait.

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  14. The latest mental health trend in Kuwait is to assemble a large group of amateurs and to “hype” them as “licensed professionals” through media advertising campaigns. This and other gimmicks have been used for over two years now in an effort to “dumb-down” the practice of psychology in Kuwait. This approach may look like a good “business strategy” on its surface, but in practice it is filled with pitfalls. The implicit assumption is that people will never catch on to their tricks! Of course “the proof is in the pudding” and the truth will eventually prevail but countless consumers--many of them children referred for psychoeducational testing and treatment by their school counselors, teachers and principals--will have been harmed in the process. Hence Kuwait is not only in need of professional regulation for psychology but also must enact mental health malpractice laws to protect the public against the actions of 'psychologist impersonators' and the like.

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  15. Beware of “Psychoquacks” -Article Written in 1957- Describes Kuwait City in 2012- Offering a Wide Assortment of “Pseudo-Psychologists”.

    http://www.all-about-psychology.com/fake-psychologist.html

    “There are understandable reasons why the field of psychology is invaded by charlatans who prey on sick minds and emotions. The profession of psychology is so young that its work is only dimly understood by the public. Though the profession has been growing fast, with the number of psychologists doubling in the last seven years, qualified practitioners are still scarce. . . . Though they list themselves loosely as "psychologists," the phonies have also adopted or invented a large number of scientific-sounding specialties. . . Many patronize diploma mills that for a price will confer almost any degree you want. One school issues authentic-looking diplomas in psychology for $16. Others ask much high prices but no more effort. . . . He advertises and boasts of his qualifications and abilities. . . The ads may read something like this: "Don't worry. Begin to live. See your psychologist." Or they may offer "sympathetic help" in "strict confidence". . . . In interpreting the listings, bear in mind that the APA frowns on any advertising other than a listing of the psychologist's name and degrees and the types of services he is prepared to offer. Remember, too, that legitimate psychologists "counsel," but never "advise," "process" or "solve." And they would think it unnecessary to promise sympathy and strict confidence, since both are part of their professional canons. . . . As one psychologist complained: "We still need to find a way to move most of the listings for P for psychologist to Q for quack."”

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  16. "Kuwait has 4 Licensed Psychologists and 1 of these is an Educational Psychologist."
    Please kindly provide me with the contact details of educational psychologist in Kuwait, as I need to consult one, for my 10 year old daughter. Her school counselor feels, that she may be suffering from ADD. Regards. My email address is meso_sol@yahoo.com.

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  17. Contact Al Razi Counseling and Assessment Center to consult with their resident American Educational Psychologist. She is a Ph.D. Psychologist who is Licensed in Florida, California and Switzerland and was the first Licensed Psychologist in Kuwait.

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    1. Her fee is just sky high... 50 KD per 30 minutes... Pffff....

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  18. Is she good for adults too? I know whom u're talking about...

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  19. Yes Dr. Tiberia treats adults as well. She can be reached at Al Razi Center, tel 2571 1411.

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  20. Yes, Dr. Tiberia sees adults and does couples counseling as well. Her office number is 2571 1411.

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  21. Doctors in Kuwait specifically those from a North African country are called Dr.Panadol. If a patient goes to a government hospital, they will prescribe only Panadol for all types sickness and medical complications.

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  22. Dear all, I need a contact details of "the real" Educational Psychologist for my DYSLEXIC child with affordable rate, as the "center of psychologist" rate are just unbelievable (30-100 KD per 30 minutes). What a good business, huh?

    please inform me to starshine2211@hotmail.com

    PS: @crazyinkuwait, thanks for blogging.

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  23. Mental health is serious..i wish people would take it more seriously here.. mental health issues are as deadly as cancer.. people just don't get it. Like I had people come to me and say why are u depressed? You have everything! Be happy.. well, you don't go to a patient with cancer and tell them why do u have cancer? U have everything! DONT have cancer! I mean really nobody chooses to have an illness..
    I really hope people start educating themselves about mental health.. really!

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Comments are welcome! Personal attacks are not. Thanks!