Egypt’s Health Ministry to launch a new campaign in October in order to raise awareness about mental illness, eliminate the social stigma surrounding it, and to offer its mental health services.
The new initiative comes in line with World’s Mental Health Day. It is dubbed “Al-Saraya Al-Safra”, or the yellow palace, a colloquial Egyptian term which refers to a place where people with mental health stay.
The spokesperson of Health Ministry Khaled Megahed said in statements that the campaign will start in 18 hospitals. He also said Al-Saraya Al-Safra was chosen because it is a familiar name that can easily be linked to mental illness.
A conference was held on September 15 to discuss depression, how to combat it and the suicidal thoughts that are usually linked to it.
Additionally, another conference will be held in November in Heliopolis Libray to discuss Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Conversely, the name “Al-Saraya Al-Safra” stirred criticism from doctors as it has always been referred to a place where “lunatics” gather. It was depicted as a lunatics refuge in several old Egyptian films.
Also, the name “Abbasiya” – Egypt’s oldest mental hospital in Cairo – has become associated with ‘madness’ a place of where there is no coming back from.
An aura of vagueness has always surrounded mental illness in Egypt. Recently, several stories were published on Facebook of people who took their own lives due to mental illness.