Saudi Arabia Mental Health vs. Brazil Mental Health


Every time the phrase "mental health" gets mentioned, people remember of the person or two that they saw on the streets seemingly homeless and abandoned by their families. Every person will think of the person on the streets wearing old and threadbare clothes if not naked. Everyone thinks of the person they saw walking around aimlessly, talking to themselves, laughing and making incomprehensible gestures. That happens to be the idea of a mentally ill person as painted by every common man but as we will unveil in this paper, mental health and mental illnesses happen to be two different perspectives though inseparable in their discussion and analysis. Similarly, this paper serves as a revelation to the weight of metal health and mental illnesses over and above what the common human eye can see. The central objective of this paper is to analyze and discuss the cross-cultural similarities and differences in mental health issues and handling in Brazil and Saudi Arabia (World Health Organization, 2011).

In brief, Saudi Arabia has a population of 26,245,969 with 3% of the population being above sixty years

The country is classified under the high income bracket according to the global per capita indices and as indicated by the $554.0 per capita expenditure on health. Case of suicide are said to be high though there are no available statistics to support the information. The country's neuropsychiatric disorders are estimated to contribute 14% of the global burden of disease hence the country needs keen attention on mental health handling as a crucial human health as a human right. From the political and government's perspective Saudi Arabia has an officially approved mental health policy which was revised most recently in the year 2008. In addition, mental health is also provided in the country's general health policy. From the cultural perspective metal illness gets recognized as a religion issue under the precincts of Muslim beliefs where the mentally ill persons are said to be possessed by evil spirits known as jinni. Despite the high literacy levels at 98% in men and 96%in women, mental illnesses are highly stereotyped with the sick persons being abandoned by their families if not confined in solitary cells where they suffer with no medication (Qureshi et al, 2013).

With a population of 188,078,227 as per the July 2006 stati(World Health Organization, 2011)stics, Brazil is one of the largest economies in the world. The population in Brazil that is above 65 years stands at 6.1% pointing to the estimated prevalence of old age mental illnesses. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Brazil recognises mental illnesses as a health problem rather than a cultural and religious issue. This explains the high number of psychiatrists at 6003 who work alongside 18,763 psychologists. The country's policy with regard to mental health recognises the issue as a problem to deal with in the country. A unique issue with regard to mental health in Brazil is the high prevalence of mental illnesses among children and in new births. Generally, the rate of mentally ill persons visits in psychiatric hospitals remains at a high of 119 per 100,000 inhabitants. The country is classified as a middle income country and this poses a challenge to the handling of mentally ill persons since a large population of the country lives below the poverty index line yet there are high rates of mental illnesses in the country. Luckily, the official mental health policy of the country has established psychiatric hospitals and community psychological centres across the country to help leverage the high prevalence of mental health cases (Mateus, 2008).

The above is just an overview the mental health status and perspective in Saudi Arabia and Brazil. The following sections will focus on a detailed cross-sectional analysis of mental health in the two countries hereby mentioned. The analysis begins with a breakdown of the main concepts in mental health in the mental health description section, the comparison section, the differences section, and the conclusion.

Mental Health Description

As mentioned earlier, mental health and mental illness happens to be highly misunderstood or even misunderstood. This is because many people get the idea of a dirty person walking aimlessly in the streets probably with no home or even family. Many people get the idea of a situation that is irreparable but that is all wrong. Again, many communities perceive mental illness as an issue of being possessed by evil spirits. How true the communal or cultural description is depends on the where one comes from and their upbringing. The central position and the conventional perspective as per the description by the World Health Organization medical illness is a medical problem while mental health a human right as is the right to life among other rights (World Health Organization, 2011).

Mental health is defined as an individual's ability to enjoy life, be able to balance their life activities, and to attain psychological resilience. A more conventional definition describes mental health as the level of psychological well-being in the absence of mental disorders and mental illness a state in which the person enjoys positive psychology in holism. In mental health, a person realizes their own abilities, can cope with the common light-weight life stresses, and can work productively and fruitfully. This way, a person is able to contribute positively to the community (Qureshi et al, 2013).


Mental disorder refers to mental anomalies that cause distress or disability which is not socially normative. Mental disorders reflect in the way a person behaves, acts, thinks, feels, and perceives. The disorders affect the not only the brain but also other parts of the central nervous system often involved in a person's social behaviour. The recent past has seen the development of psychological studies in the study of mental health as a preliminary mean to the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of the mental disorders. Some of the common mental disorders include acute stress disorder, adjustment disorder, adolescent antisocial disorder, adult antisocial disorder, panic disorder and many more disorder often overlooked by people. If uncontrolled, the simple mental disorders may lead to the rugged conditions of people as seen on the streets. Generally, everyone one in the world has had a mental health issue at a time in their life it may have passed unnoticed by virtue of its short life. It may be difficult to avoid mental disorders as some of them come in the natural precinct of life while others are accidental. Nevertheless, the handling of the mental disorder fully defines the line between mental health and illness (World Health Organization, 2011).

Before looking into the handling of mental health in Brazil and Saud Arabia, it will be of paramount importance to understand the causes of mental disorders and illnesses. This helps in understanding the intensity of the problem and thus the enabling people to understand mental health. Mental disorders can be caused by biological factors such as genetics, prenatal damage, infection, substance abuse, chemical imbalances, and brain injuries and defects. There are also psychological factors such as acute stress and environmental factors such as relationships, poverty, and social expectations. The diagnosis of mental disorders and illnesses begins with the understanding if the causes (World Health Organization, 2011).

Saudi Arabia Mental Health vs. Brazil Mental Health Similarities

In both Saudi Arabia and Brazil mental illness is recognized as a medical problem. This is illustrated by the recognition by the governments in both countries through the setting out of plans to handle mental illnesses. In other words, mental health in both Saudi Arabia and Brazil is recognized as a human right as depicted by the presence of mental health systems. In Saudi Arabia the government instituted a mental health program in 2008. The program seeks to provide treatment to mental illness patient. Similarly, mental health treatment is also provided for in the country's general health program (Qureshi et al, 2013). The program recognized mental health issues and incorporated them in the health program after a global outcry which cursed the neglect of those suffering from mental illnesses in Saudi Arabia which accounts for 14% of medical health cases globally. In Brazil, the government has established psychiatric hospitals and community psychological centres across the country in order to deal with the cases of mental health. The country has a total of 848 community psychological centres (Mateus, 2008). In the stated community psychological centres and psychiatric hospitals the government has employed hordes of psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, and nurses to attend to the mental illness patients. The mental health program in Brazil is also funded by the World Health Organization since majority of the country's citizens suffering from mental illnesses live below the poverty index.

Saudi Arabia Mental Health vs. Brazil Mental Health Differences

While Saudi Arabia citizenry treats mental illness and mental health cases as a religious issue, Brazil recognizes mental illness as a purely medical issue. Saudi Arabia is made up 99% Muslims. The Islamic culture refers to medical illness in terms of possession by evil spirits known as jinni. This belief persist despite the high literacy levels at 98% among men and 96% among women. For that reason mentally ill persons are usually abandoned in Saudi Arabia while others are confined in dark rooms with their feet and hands chained and this explains why the country contributes 14% of the global mental health cases (Qureshi et al, 2013). In Brazil, majority of the population are of the Catholic faith amounting to 75% of the population. Other than being Christian faithful, Brazilians comprise of people from varied cultural backgrounds. Mental health issues are accounted for scientifically and professionally and though the country contributed a great portion of the global mental illness case, the patients are not as much stereotyped as it is in Saudi Arabia (Mateus, 2008).

Saudi Arabia Mental Health vs. Brazil Mental Health Closing

In both Saudi Arabia and Brazil mental health is recognized as a human right. This is the reason the governments in both countries have put in place mental health programs and systems to alleviate the situation (Qureshi et al, 2013). However, the citizens in Saudi Arabia recognize mental health cases from the religious perspective while the Brazilians have no cultural reservations but rather the citizen recognize the cases professionally and scientifically.


  1. Mateus, M.D. et al (2008). The mental health system in Brazil: Policies and future challenges. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 2.

  2. Qureshi,N.A., Al-Habeeb,A.A., Koenig,H.G. (2013, August). Mental health system in Saudi Arabia: An Overview. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from

  3. World Health Organization (2011). Saudi Arabia.

You may find it interesting: