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Therapeutic message

June 29 - July 5, 2022
Gulf Weekly Therapeutic message
Gulf Weekly Therapeutic message
Gulf Weekly Therapeutic message

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Prominent psychologist Dr Mariam Alammadi has written and illustrated a series of children’s books in a bid to draw attention to mental health and encourage young or old to not shy away from seeking help when needed.

Earlier this month, the founder of The Child & Family Foundation Centre independently published her first book called My Therapist & I, Nasser Goes to Therapy about a young boy living in Bahrain.

It is the first of three short children’s stories, each 28 to 38 pages long, which will ‘focus on exploring therapy from the eyes of a child’.

“As a psychologist working in Bahrain, I always get asked by parents how do they explain bringing their child to a therapist, or what books do I recommend,” said Dr Mariam. “They are often fearful as to how their child or teenager will react. I honestly could never really find books that I felt would resonate with patients and I felt that this would be a great way for our community to relate to the subject and its message.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2019, nearly a billion people – including 14 per cent of the world’s adolescents – were living with a mental disorder. Suicide accounted for more than one in 100 deaths and 58 per cent of suicides occurred before age 50.

Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability and people with severe mental health conditions die on average 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population, mostly due to preventable physical diseases.

Depression and anxiety went up by more than 25 per cent in the first year of the pandemic alone and the stigma, discrimination and human rights violations against people with mental health conditions continues to be widespread in communities and care systems everywhere.

As for WHO’s 2022 global statistics, 10 per cent of children experience a mental health disorder but never receive help, treatment or care.

“The consequences of children not addressing mental health concerns extends into adulthood subsequently affecting and limiting their opportunities to lead happy, fulfilled lives,” she explained.

“We need to help break the stigma, particularly in the Middle East and GCC regions. Although we have been lucky in that mental health has come to the forefront recently, we want the conversation about good mental well-being to always be discussed.

“I hope my book will help explain therapy to children in a non-threatening and comforting way. If my little book can help in any way to encourage even one child or parent to ask for professional help that is all I could ask for or hope for.”

Dr Mariam also has a range of gratitude and mood tracking journals to help people on their journey to good mental well-being.

“They are actually a great tool for someone who is attending therapy, particularly the mood tracking journals,” she explained. “They vary in design to appeal to more people and I love creating them. I am a huge believer of journalling and have witnessed the benefits first-hand.”

The advocate for writing down daily thoughts also believes that keeping a diary offers the chance to improve self-awareness.

“Psychological research into diary keeping has shown that the act of writing provides a tool that can unlock the thoughts and feelings you might be disregarding,” she said. “It has the ability to reduce our anxieties and settle our nerves in potentially stressful situations and enables you to develop a sense of control. Understanding your moods and taking notes help you manage them, feel better faster and be more aware of your behavioural patterns.

“This will help you feel empowered to make better lifestyle choices, make informed health decisions, learn and identify triggers to work towards a higher quality of mental well-being. When we learn to show gratitude for our blessings in life we become more positive and it can actually help our self-esteem.”

Dr Mariam is currently working on more books and enjoying the feedback from the public and local community. She says that she has received an amazing response for her first book, especially from children.

The books are available from Amazon and for details, follow @allthingsmariam on Instagram.

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