By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: The Global Burden of Disease study estimates that, within the GCC region, approximately 15 percent of the population is believed to suffer from mental disorders in any given year. However, an estimated 75 percent of individuals who experience mental health difficulties do not seek professional help. This October, and as a follow up to her ongoing awareness campaigns to break the stigma around mental health, philanthropist, entrepreneur and mental health advocate, Sheikha Majda Jaber Humoud Al-Sabah announced the launch of the Houna Initiative, which addresses the urgent need for mental health support and services, not only in Kuwait but the wider GCC region.
Sheikha Majda told Kuwait Times that there is a great shortage of online Arabic content related to mental health support, explaining that when she suffered from mental health issues, she had a hard time finding a proper support system or website that provides names in Arabic of psychiatrists, in addition to other mental health support services. “Therefore, the launch of the Houna Initiative came to provide the best support to people suffering from mental health issues in Arabic, as online content related to mental health is mostly in English and other languages,” she said.
“The Houna Initiative has doctors and psychiatrists and wellness services such as yoga, breathing therapy, coloring and drawing and voice therapy provided for this platform,” Sheikha Majda said. She pointed out Houna provides free workshops, training courses and lectures for members through its doctors registered on the platform, adding she is keen to coordinate with the doctors to set prices suitable for everyone, in addition to full privacy that is guaranteed to members.
The Houna Initiative is a mental health platform that includes a region-wide offering of resources, services, and support. Accessible to people of all ages, nationalities, and socioeconomic backgrounds in the Middle East, the platform provides information related to mental health disorders, treatments and symptoms, as well as lists of wellbeing centres, podcasts, articles, webinars, physical and virtual events to keep people abreast of the latest information in the field of mental health encouraging them to achieve a sense of holistic well-being. It also includes a directory of professionally licensed therapists, allowing them to connect to the therapists that are most relevant to their needs.
Anchored on the values of inclusivity, respect, confidentiality, credibility, integrity, and treating people equally, Houna Initiative is a go-to digital aggregator created to act as an oasis of knowledge, support, guidance, and engagement for people dealing with mental health issues.
Sheikha Majda expressed her pride in the launch of the platform, highlighting the urgent need to go beyond just raising awareness, but to create a platform that can directly support those suffering. “I believe that no one is immune to changes of mood, obsessions, fears, or mental health concerns. Through the ASAP initiative, I tried to be an advocate for destigmatizing mental health. However, raising awareness is not enough. I wanted to go beyond, and hence created a platform that can offer information and support not only to those that are suffering from mental health challenges, but also to anyone trying to achieve a state of holistic wellbeing,” she said.
Chairperson and CEO of National Creative Industries Group(NCIG), Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah told Kuwait Times that NCIG is pleased to host the launch of the Houna Initiative. “Although this location specializes in producing all kinds of media materials, the Houna platform is also specialized in modifying the mental health of human beings at all levels. This great harmony is highly important for us. We wish the best of luck to the founders and their great job, most importantly to Her Highness Sheikha Majda Al-Sabah. We wish to have full support from everyone for these types of humanitarian initiatives.”
Emphasising the importance of reaching out for support, guidance, and treatment, and aiming to engage with those who would shy away from asking questions on mental health, the Houna Initiative also hosts regular support groups tackling crucial mental health issues and connecting people that face similar challenges in their families. These support groups are led by certified professionals from the region, and are available to the Houna membership community through a dedicated annual membership fee.