Mental health is a key component of health, yet appropriate care is limited. Evidence concerning child and adolescent mental health has predominantly come from western countries, while the Middle East region, with a large youth population, has reported very little on it. This original, cross-sectional study of child and adolescent psychiatry in the Middle East provides an assessment of current postgraduate programs, services and what is needed to build workforce capacity. Academic psychiatrists from 16 Middle East countries were invited to form a Consortium to map current postgraduate training as one of the determinants of available child and adolescent psychiatry services, identify gaps in the distribution of child and adolescent psychiatrists, and propose potential steps to improve access to child and adolescent mental health care. The study collected data from 15 of the 16 countries invited (no data provided from Yemen). The study revealed underdeveloped child and adolescent psychiatry academic systems throughout the region. Despite recognition of the specialty in a majority of the countries (11/15), only six countries had established a designated child and adolescent psychiatry training program. The overall shortage of child and adolescent mental health specialists varied, yet all Consortium members reported a need for additional child and adolescent psychiatry specialists and allied professionals. Lack of child and adolescent psychiatry specialized programs in place throughout the region has evidently contributed to the shortage of qualified child and adolescent mental health workforce in the Middle East.
Keywords: Child and adolescent mental health; Child and adolescent psychiatry (CAP); Middle East (ME); Postgraduate training.