Hulhumale’ hospital to establish a mental health centre

With the increasing demand, yet scarcity of mental health services in the Maldives, efforts are being made to expand this service by opening a mental health centre in Hulhumale’ Hospital.



Hulhumale' Hospital has an ongoing development project- which plans to establish a mental health centre in the hospital by October 2022. The hospital, which has been working a Consultant since July 2022, has recognized the growing demand for and scarcity of mental health services in the Maldives and has been working on establishing a mental health centre within the hospital, with the goal of having the centre open by October 10th in celebration of world mental health day.

The Maldives, like many Asian countries, has a taboo against discussing mental health. Despite the fact that a significant number of Maldivians suffer from mental illnesses, these issues are usually discussed behind closed doors or simply locked away, never to be discussed again. Due to the stigma surrounding mental health, getting help can be extremely difficult in the Maldives.

Even with an established mental health centre in the Government-run hospital Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), the wait-list can put you on hold for weeks or even months. In addition to this, the medication for mental health issues usually not falling under the Aasandha insurance scheme means that one has to bear a hefty bill at the end of their visit.

The wait-lists for mental healthcare have made it quite evident that the demand for the services is not being met, leaving many to suffer in silence without getting help on time. 

While there are ways to get help, regardless of the cost or the length of the line when it comes to people who reside in the capital city Male’, there are no options for those living on local islands. Since this issue has been completely ignored, people in the atolls have two options if they ever need treatment or even a diagnosis: wait for a visiting doctor or travel to Male' to get help.

The difficulty is further piled on, due to the stigma surrounding the topic as the issue might be brushed off and dismissed as something that is ‘just in your head’. 

“Patients and their families often believe that their problems are physical or spiritual in nature, rather than related to the brain and mental processes, because of negative perceptions. It is also commonly perceived that mental disorders are due to personality weakness such as cowardice and laziness or to lack of faith” 
Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Arif Mohamed

With the mental health services availability this scarce and pricey, establishment of more mental health centres has become extremely important.  

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