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    Roundtable at ICESCO emphasizes the importance of mental health for thriving communities

    14 October 2023

    During a roundtable discussion on mental health, organized by the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) under the theme “Together for the Mental Safety and Health of Children, Youth, and Families,” participants unanimously emphasized the utmost importance of mental health. They called for the development of mental health support facilities in communities and the leveraging of modern technology to advance the field of mental healthcare, and intensify studies and research to keep pace with the global changes.

    The Roundtable, held on Friday 13 October 2023, at ICESCO Headquarters, as part of the celebration of World Mental Health Day, saw the high-level attendance of officials, representatives of international organizations and bodies, as well as experts and specialists in the field of mental health.

    The opening session was inaugurated by Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, ICESCO Director-General, who stressed that mental health issues resonate with the organization’s vision at a core level, and align with its efforts to promote well-being for children, youth, and women, recognizing the family the cornerstone of all communities. He further clarified that ICESCO has issued a guide for psychosocial counseling for the benefit of families, educators, and local communities, notable for its precise content.

    ICESCO Director-General also called for a focus on providing mental health support for women, as they are the most affected by mental disorders, highlighting that the Organization is collaborating with international organizations and competent parties to develop a range of initiatives and projects aimed at building the capacities of mental health professionals.

    On her part, Dr. Afnan Al-Shuaibi, Executive Director of the Women’s Development Organization, emphasized the need to raise awareness of mental health issues in light of the challenges and changes witnessed in today’s world. She reviewed the organization’s programs in the areas of gender equality, women’s empowerment, and countering stereotypes.

    In her remarks, Dr. Aawatif Hayar, Minister of Solidarity, Social Integration, and Family in the Kingdom of Morocco, delivered on her behalf by Mr. Mohamed Ait Azizi, highlighted the importance of joint action and intensified efforts to overcome the impediments that prevent treatment from reaching all classes of society.

    On his part, Mr. Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid, Minister of Youth, Culture, and Communication in the Kingdom of Morocco, in his address delivered on his behalf by Ms. Kenza Abou Rommane, stressed the need to align perspectives and coordinate action plans among all parties concerned with mental health to encourage cooperation and exchange of expertise.

    In her remarks, Dr. Speciose Hakizimana, UNICEF representative in Morocco, acknowledged the importance that ICESCO places on mental health, emphasizing that the lack of well-being for children represents a missed opportunity for the world to build a balanced and prosperous future.

    Following this, Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, ICESCO Director-General, and Dr. Afnan Al-Shuaibi, Executive Director of the Women’s Development Organization, signed a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations to support and build the capacities of girls and women.

    Subsequently, a multi-sectoral panel discussion on mental health and safety was launched, co-facilitated by Ms. Ramata Almamy Mbaye, Head of ICESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector, and Mr. Mohamed Hedi Shili, Director of Legal Affairs and International Standards Department at the Organization. The discussion enjoyed the participation of several psychiatrists, university professors, experts, and specialists in the field, emphasizing the importance of mental health support in the protection and treatment of mental disorders, as well as reviewing key mechanisms for promoting mental health in communities.

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