Psychological health, or what is commonly referred to as mental health, is defined by the World Health Organization as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community".
Psychological disorders are considered one of the major health issues in societies worldwide. They affect people of all ages, cultures and financial status (Baumesiter, 2007). Worldwide, it is estimated that 450,000,000 people suffer from psychological disorders.
It was with that staggering number in mind that King Saud University established the Psychological Health Research and Applications Chair, the purpose being to stress the importance of psychological health and the goal being to address psychological studies, whether pertaining to pervasive development disorders or to positive applications serving individuals or groups.
Professor Abdullah Al-Subaie, a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Canada, and a Consultant Psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at the College of Medicine in King Saud University was named Chair supervisor in March 2008.
The Chair’s vision was to achieve local and international leadership as a pioneering psychological health knowledge and improvement center. The mission was to become a primary reference for decision-makers about psychological aspects, particularly in Saudi Arabia, and to be considered the first port of call for all psychological researchers in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
The Chair had seven major objectives including:
(1) To carry out psychological research and applications to achieve leadership for the Kingdom in this field.
(2) To establish academic and scientific partnership with research centers and international universities.
(3) To provide counseling and conduct the necessary studies to enhance the performance of the different authorities and establishments in the Chair’s fields of interest.
(4) To cooperate in, coordinate and exchange scientific production as well as academic and professional expertise in the Chair’s fields of interest between authorities, establishments and centers within and outside of the Kingdom and to strengthen research ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council.
(5) To organize specialized seminars to directly benefit educators and workers in the mental health field.
(6) To encourage writing and disseminating practical manuscripts and books addressing with psychological problems for individuals and establishments.
(7) To support basic studies in psychological sciences in a manner compatible with the sensitivities of the Islamic Saudi culture, and scientific methodology, at the same time.
Since the Chair’s inception, it has succeeded in having much of its research published in refereed journals,
The Chair succeeded in getting a number of its researches published in international refereed academic journals. They include:
(1) Predicting medical response in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
(2) Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) for Treatment of Resistant Depressive Disorder.
(3) Sociobiological and Genetic Predictors of the Stress Response in Chronic Major Depression.
(4) Obsessive-compulsive disorder: An innovative genetic study utilizing intermediate phenotypes and pharmacogenetics.
(5) Vulnerability and resilience to post-traumatic intrusions.
(6) Behavioural and neural correlates of autobiographical memory in ECT and depression.
(7) The role of childhood adversity and genetic polymorphism in the serotonin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor systems in the sensitization to stress in first-onset major depression.
In other activities, the Chair has established an agreement with the Psychiatric Residents Club of Saudi Arabia, a club with more than 80 trained psychiatrists to carry out a number of community awareness activities in the field of psychological health.