Let’s Talk About Mental Health

ARCSON faculty member raises awareness about the importance of mental health care in a televised interview.

By Raissa Batakji

El-Jordi highlighted the low number of mental health patients in Lebanon receiving proper care.

“Nine out of ten mental health patients do not receive the care they need in Lebanon,” according to an opening statement on Health, a morning program on Télé Lumière that recently featured an interview with LAU’s own Zeina El-Jordi, clinical instructor at the Alice Ramez Chagoury School of Nursing (ARCSON).

“Every two and a half days someone in Lebanon commits suicide, and every six hours there is a suicide attempt,” she said.

The staggeringly low number of mental health patients receiving proper care can be attributed to persistent social stigma and lack of public education on the topic, explained El-Jordi, who is also a board member of Embrace, a non-profit that helps inform and support people by dispelling myths around mental illness, and was the first to create a national suicide prevention helpline in Lebanon and the region. As an Embrace board member, El-Jordi runs awareness sessions regarding suicide at universities and in communities in collaboration with municipalities.

“Almost a quarter of the Lebanese population suffers from a mental health problem,” El-Jordi told the show’s host, pointing out that mental health illnesses such as depression can lead to suicide if left untreated. “That’s why it’s important to break stigma against mental illness.”

In a commentary, ARCSON Dean Dr. Anahid Kulwicki said that mental health is “one of the most commonly overlooked yet crucial issues that require our attention, as educators, as health experts and as Lebanese.” She noted that thanks to LAU’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) program, ARCSON is working with faculty and staff at the Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine and the School of Pharmacy to promote ways to identify and care for mental health patients.