Current State of Psychiatry in Saudi ArabiaHarold G Koenig, Faten Al-Zaben, Mohammad Gamal Sehlo, Doaa Ahmed Khalifa, Mahmoud Shaheen Al-Ahwal
Background: In 1983, an article and accompanying editorial was published on the state of psychiatry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), which was described as “a mental health system in statu nascendi.” Methods: We provide a 30-year update on advances in mental health care in KSA. Data are reported from a wide range of sources, including the 2007 Saudi Arabian Mental and Social Health Atlas, which compares services in KSA with the rest of the world.
Results: We examine how the current mental health system operates in KSA, including recent changes in mental healthcare policy and development of a national mental healthcare plan. Discussed are current needs based on the prevalence and recognition of mental disorders; availability of services and providers (psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, and social workers); education and training in psychiatry; developments in consultation-liaison, addictions, child-adolescent, and geriatric psychiatry; and progress in mental health research.
Conclusions: Mental healthcare in Saudi Arabia has come a long way in a very short time, despite cultural, religious, social, and political challenges, although there still remain areas where improvement is needed. The development of psychiatry in KSA serves as a model for countries in the Middle East and around the world.