By Fatima Muhammad
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is planning to increase the number of family consultancy offices and social protection units to 200 over the next three years, the ministry said in a statement.
These centers, which will employ 21,000 staff, will hopefully reduce the number of divorces and family disputes in the country.
The ministry is setting criteria for family consultants as well as for operating the centers. It will also contribute to preparing qualified and professional consultants.
The ministry urged the public to inform about any abuse, neglect or discrimination by contacting it on the hotline 9191 or through email: firstname.lastname@example.org., or by visiting any of the ministry offices.
Speaking to Saudi Gazette, Samira Al-Ghamdi, a psychiatrist, said the move is a positive one as it will organize the consultation domain.
“Although the number of centers is not sufficient due to the high demand for consultancy, yet this is a good move to combat centers that operate outside the umbrella of the ministry,” she said. According to Al-Ghamdi, unqualified people used to operate centers that might even not been licensed by the concerned authorities. “Such centers are like those operated by faith healers who claim they are capable of treating people with severe psychological illnesses,” she said.
Asked if the local people are receptive of going to family consultancy centers Al-Ghamdi said, “Yes, people are now more open to family consultancy and they are approaching the centers. There is a little hesitation however in visiting psychiatric clinics.”
Mishal A-Qurashi, another psychiatrist, pointed out that the family consultancy centers that are well-equipped and work professionally could reduce family disputes.
One particular area that consultancy centers can help in is providing pre-marriage consultancy. “Couples can be provided with awareness and training on their roles and how to settle matters that may arise due to home/work conflict or child raising,” Al-Qurashi said.
She added that as psychiatrists they put high expectations on what these centers could provide at the individual and family levels.