“Haram” Mental illnesses are now covered by Lebanese Hospitals.

Even if I keep-up with our country’s news and updates, I am never one to comment on such issues, as this is not my area of expertise.

But, this topic hits home for me. I watched many of my friends and family go-through and thanks to medical assistance recover from mental disorders or learn to live and adapt with their illnesses, throughout the years.

So, as I read that the minister of health announced that Lebanese Hospitals are now covering mental health issues, I wondered if that will be enough to remove the stigma that parallels mental illness in Lebanon, the “haram” and “b3id el shhar” that surrounds it.

I’ve seen friends break-down because of intensive bullying, which resulted after an episode they can’t mentally or physically control. I’ve witnessed some of them refusing to take their medicine in public because they were afraid of others calling them “different” and “retards” because of the conditions they were born with. And I’ve known friends who couldn’t get out of bed for days-on-end, and get fired because of a worsening condition… and when they got better they woke up to go under again.

So, while we can be partially happy that at least their medical bills won’t be as heavy as before – even if insurance companies are not yet fully cooperative – I think before we applaud our minister, education around mental illness should not only be addressed on TV and outdoor billboards or only to professionals at hospitals and clinics, it should be instilled in our school’s social discussions and our Lebanese society mind-set in general — A 50-year-old woman addressing mental illness saying “madroube” is not allowed in this day and age.

Expressions like “shed 7alak” to a Clinically Depressed person and “shou bek mafssoum” addressed to a person suffering from a Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia should not be said in 2017.

So yes, hospitals covering … awesome. But, there is still so much work left to do, especially that a major number of Lebanese people are facing mental illness – antidepressants aren’t trendy, they’re needed here – and that our country’s conditions can break down any human and our resilience these days is running low. But hey, sure, small victories.


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