JEDDAH: Amid warnings from UN health experts that the mental well-being of societies has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Najla Al-Thaqafi decided to establish the Etizan Therapy Center (@EtizanT) to fill gaps in mental health services in Saudi Arabia.
“The need for facilities providing comprehensive and high-quality services has increased,” Al-Thaqafi told Arab News. She said the results of a national survey, and one conducted by her center, showed that people want such facilities to help them with their mental health.
“There’s a lack of centers for psychotherapy services that conform to international standards,” she added. “Our society deserves the highest standards in quality and service.”
According to the Saudi National Mental Health Survey, conducted by the King Salman Center for Disability Research and published in October last year, 34 percent of Saudis experience a mental health condition sometime in their life.
Moreover, 80 percent of Saudis with severe mental health disorders do not seek any treatment.
The most prevalent mental health conditions in the Kingdom are separation anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder, social phobia and obsessive compulsive disorder.
“Etizan, which means balance in Arabic, is a big goal and a dream that very recently came true to introduce something different to society,” said Al-Thaqafi.
The 30-year-old clinical psychologist gathered a team of 10 young Saudi specialists with master’s degrees and doctorates in diverse fields under the roof of her center, which opened in Jeddah in June. Her father was her main supporter in establishing it.
Etizan offers a diverse set of services for people of all ages, including individual treatment for children, adolescents and adults; family and marriage therapy; group therapy and addiction treatment.
Al-Thaqafi said what distinguishes Etizan from other service providers is the diversity of specialties, well-developed treatment programs and a strong work ethic.
“We also offer the highest levels of hospitality at reasonable prices commensurate with the segments of society,” she added.
“Moreover, we offer volunteering opportunities where we aim to work on humanitarian initiatives and provide voluntary service to the community.”
Al-Thaqafi obtained a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam. She also works as a lecturer in psychology at a private university in Jeddah.