Counselling Associations

All Professional Bodies, National Associations (e.g. Mental Health, School, Guidance, Addiction, Faith-based etc.) and Accrediting Organisations.

Universities and Other Education and Training Institutes

The Maldives National University

Mandhu College Maldives

Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres

Maldives Institute for Psychological Services, Training & Research (MIPSTAR)

Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH)

Society for Health Education 

Background & Context

There is not much literature on the counselling profession in the Maldives as the mental health system is limited and it is poorly organised and coordinated. The central authority to oversee the mental health system in the Maldives is the Ministry of Health (MoH). To improve the mental health system and the counselling profession in the Maldives, the Ministry of Health (MoH, 2016) came out with a National Mental Health Strategic Plan (NMHSP). It sets out the directions for the attainment of an optimal mental health system in the Maldives from the year 2016 to 2021. 

The NMHSP came out with three strategic action areas (MoH, 2016). The first area focuses on building strong leadership and governance structures for mental health services (MoH, 2016). The aim is to raise more funds to let the plan work and to control and improve the quality of national mental health services to deal with mental health issues.

The second strategic action area is to develop a network of community-based mental health services with a strong referral system (MoH, 2016). Here, the MoH will establish more mental health services, for example, regional hospitals and specialist and psychiatric services. Several programmes will be held for the development of school counsellors and organization. 

The third strategic action area emphasized on multi-sectoral collaboration in promoting, preventing, and managing mental disorders (MoH, 2016). The actions include campaigns and publishing mental health-related information on social media to increase awareness about mental health. Also, the action plan will set up support groups in the Maldives and give training to group leaders and other professionals to make sure there are enough experts to fulfil the needs of the people.

Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:

Currently, there is a Mental Health unit under the Health Protection Agency with MoH. Furthermore, the Mental Health Policy (2014) has been recently developed and endorsed by the MoH. However, mental health legislation has yet to be developed.

There is a dearth of trained mental health professionals in the country and it is reported that there were 4.48 mental health professionals per 100,000 people in 2006 (World Health Organisation [WHO], 2006). Now there is some mental health training available at local institutions for counsellors, nurses, and primary healthcare workers. Furthermore, of recent, there are graduate and diploma level studies in Psychology and Special Education available at the Maldivian National University.

In terms of financing, there is no separate financing for mental health care, but psychiatric treatment and medications are covered by the social health insurance scheme in the country (MoH, 2016). Some financial assistance for chronic mental health problems in childhood and intellectual disabilities are funded by the government. However, there is little financial assistance for disability issues associated with chronic psychiatric disorders

Practice Settings

Most of the mental health services are in the capital city, Malé, with minimal services in the outer islands. Most of the counselling professions in the Maldives are found in government-related fields, for example in schools, penitentiaries, rehabilitation centres, and a few in public sectors.

Mostly known practice settings are as follow:

  • Hospitals
  • Private psychological centres
  • Schools and universities
  • NGOs

Challenges & Trends

The main challenge in the Maldives is the primary health care system is inadequate and has no mental health policy, plan, or legislation (WHO, 2006). There is not much training and no treatment protocols for primary care staff. Also, the mental health workers do not receive any training on human rights (WHO, 2006). Knowing that the Maldives is made up of 1200 islands, it is an issue that the mental health facilities and human resources are limited and only concentrated in the capital city, Malé (WHO, 2006). In particular, there are no psychosocial staff (psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists) working in the mental health facilities (WHO, 2006).

Additional Information & References

For a deeper exploration of the counselling profession in the country, interested readers are recommended to read the following journal & website articles:

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