Egypt’s Health Ministry will launch a new campaign in October that aims to raise awareness about mental illnesses by eliminating social stigmas and offering its mental health services.
The new initiative comes in line with 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 issues seek help.
The spokesperson for the Health Ministry, Khaled Megahed, said in a statement that the campaign will be initiated in 18 hospitals. He also said the title “Al-Saraya Al-Safra” was chosen because it is a familiar name that can easily be linked to mental illness.
In addition to the campaign, 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 at Heliopolis Libray to discuss Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
The name “Al-Saraya Al-Safra” also stirred criticism from doctors as it has always been referred to as a place where “lunatics” gather. It was depicted as a refuge for lunatics 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 from people who took their own lives due to mental illness.