Mental health is a topic that has not gathered enough awareness in the Arab region. Mental disorders ,such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), are taken very seriously in the west, specially by parents that would like to ensure their children have no growth or learning problems. This is very well justified, as studies show that almost 5% of all children would be diagnosed with ADHD, as an example. However, as we take a look at the case of the 28-year old Jordanian Dubai resident, that failed to commit suicide, we will find great irony in learning that if someone in the UAE with enough disorders to reach the point of killing themselves, they are to be handed a fine and deportation sentence.
The Jordanian, a consultant, was found unconscious and pale in her bedroom floor by her cleaner. She was rushed to a hospital and stayed in a coma for 40 days. The Dubai Police forensic medicine report shows that she had swallowed a quantity of pills enough to kill herself. After she woke up from the coma, and released, she booked a holiday, perhaps to de-stress herself and regenerate her mental status. However, she was stopped from travelling and directed to a police station, handed a 5000 AED fine, and sentenced to be deported (kicked from the country).
The UAE government insists that it is doing it’s best to combat mental illness and allocating more than enough resources, but further research would show this is more applicable to Emiratis, rather than expat residents. Does this mean that mental health is only important when it comes to the safety of their citizens, but not as mental health in general?
It is quite difficult, and illogical to understand how a human suffering from depression and anxiety disorders will benefit mentally from a crippling financial fine and deportation – an end to their career. It is also difficult to understand why this was not categorized as a health problem rather than a “crime”, and insurance companies made to cover expat residents’ mental health problems, similar to how they profitably cover everything else.