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
Counselling Agencies, Services, Group Practices, Counselling Centres
Background & Context
There is not much information about the counselling profession in Saudi Arabia that could be located. However, the government of Saudi Arabia seems to be putting a lot of effort into school counselling programs in educational institutions throughout the country. The reason behind the focus on the school setting is because there is a relatively high prevalence rate for anxiety and depression in children (Alotaibi, 2016). Additionally, the teachers and staff at schools are not properly trained when dealing with mental health issues in the schools, hence the need for more programs focusing on mental health among school aged children. The government also came up with a program called the National Committee for Mental Health Promotion (NCMH). The purpose of NCMH is to help provide treatment and rehabilitation services to people who have mental health disorders (NCMH, n.d.). The NCMH is also responsible for the continuous education about mental health and the various misconceptions that are related to mental health (NCMH, n.d.). The counselling profession in Saudi Arabia is still developing with educational services continuously growing.
Current Regulatory Status / Level of Recognition:
The public mental health services are provided mainly by the Ministry of Health (MoH). Under the Ministry of Health, “the General Administration for Mental Health and Social Services” (Qureshi et al., 2013, mental health organization and services section) manages and develops the mental health service delivery by following the core themes of the World Health Organization (WHO; Qureshi et al., 2013). Qureshi et al. (2013) provides that “one of the main tasks of the MoH is to improve the integration of services through mental health action plans and policy development” (p. 1125).
Mental health services in Saudi Arabia provide outpatient, inpatient, and emergency services within various hospital settings (Qureshi et al., 2013). Qureshi et al. (2013) further explains that “child and adolescent services are delivered through mental health facilities in children and maternity hospitals, academic universities, and specialized general hospitals” (p. 1125). Private mental health care services are also covered by insurance (Qureshi et al., 2013). Community mental health clinics and primary health care (PHC) centres provide additional outpatient services, all of which need further expansion and support by well-trained specialists and an allied workforce (Abdelgadir et al., 1999). Community mental health facilities include inpatient and outpatient services, residential units, and services in private healthcare clinics (Abdelgadir et al., 1999).
It is not known how many counsellors exist in Saudi Arabia. However, the existing counsellors in Saudi Arabia practice in settings including:
- Private psychological centres
- Schools and universities
- Non-governmental Organisations
Challenges & Trends
Teachers and staff in Saudi Arabian schools are often poorly trained, or have a lack of knowledge or awareness of health issues affecting Saudi Arabian students (Alotaibi, 2015).
There is also a stigma placed on counselling, which causes parents to fear seeking counselling for their children because of what other people might think (Alghamdi, 2015). There are also circumstances where females are discouraged by family, and male members to pursue the counselling career (Alghamdi, 2015). There is also no known counselling association in Saudi Arabia, which causes problems regulating the profession and providing education about the profession. This can cause the public to lack knowledge and awareness about mental health issues as well.
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:
- Abdelgadir, M. H., Qureshi, N. A., al-Ghamdy, Y. S., Tawfik, M. H., al-Haddad, N. B., al-Amri, A. H., & Farwana, M. (1999). Integration of mental health into primary care in Al-Qassim Region, Saudi Arabia: Planning phase I. East Mediterr Health J, 5(2), 378-384. https://applications.emro.who.int/emhj/0502/EMHJ_1999_5_2_378_384.pdf
- Alghamdi, N. G. (2015). The problems faced in career counselling in Saudi Arabia: An exploratory study in private girls’ schools. Science International, 27(6), 6113-6117. http://www.sci-int.com/pdf/4350147281%20a%206113-6117%20%20Nawal%20G%20Alghamdi.pdf
- Alotaibi. T. (2015). Combating anxiety and depression among school children and adolescents through student counselling in Saudi Arabia. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 205, 18-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.09.006
- Alotaibi, T. (2016). The new educators: The reason for Saudi Arabia to invest more in student counseling programs. International Journal of Social, Behavioral, Educational, Economic, Business and Industrial Engineering, 10(10), 3154-3159. https://adhd.org.sa/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/The-New-Educators-The-Reasons-for-Saudi-Arabia-to-Invest-More-in-Student-Counseling-Programs-%E2%80%93-Turki-Alotaibi-2016.pdf
- National Committee for Mental Health Promotion. (n.d.) http://ncmh.org.sa/index.php/pages/view_en/2590/14/23
- Qureshi, N. A., Al-Habeeb, A. A., & Koenig, H. G. (2013) Mental health system in Saudi Arabia: an overview. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 9, 1121-1135. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S48782