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Dr. Mohammad Al-Suwaidan

Dr. Mohammad Al-Suwaidan

This is a great honor which I accept humbly and hope that I can be a positive inspiration for other young men in my society to do good, not just for themselves but for others.

Please tell us about yourself.
I am a consultant psychiatrist with expertise in mood and anxiety disorders, medical education and public health. I work as an assistant professor at the medical schools of both Kuwait University and the University of Toronto, Canada. I also work as head of the mental health team at Mubarak Hospital and I own and operate my own private mental health clinic. Beyond that I spend a lot of my time spreading awareness about mental health issues to society as a whole through public events, media appearances and social media means. I’m very interested in many broad subjects outside mental health including creativity, philosophy, poetry, art and history and I try to incorporate these interests in my work. I’m also a husband and father of three children who are the love of my life.

Tell us about your educational background.
I finished most of my primary schooling in the United States. I attended medical school at Kuwait University as well as specialization in psychiatry at the University of Toronto which is ranked one of the world’s top ten universities in psychiatry. I also did research training in mood disorders at Tufts University and Stanford University and a Master of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Tell us about your family.
My father is a petroleum engineer, management consultant and amazing public speaker. My mother is an educator who runs several nurseries and leadership training programs for young women. I am the eldest of six siblings and I’m very close to all of them. I am blessed to be married to a very kind and supportive wife who herself has great achievements in dentistry and education and we have three children. I am also very close to my wife’s family who live in Jeddah.

Describe your family support.
My family is very, very close and supportive. I can always depend on them and they are my anchor in this world.

Tell us about your childhood. How did your formative years lead to your success?
I grew up in the United States in Oklahoma and then Washington DC. I skipped a grade in school so I was always the youngest in my class and my friends were always older than me. My parents always placed a huge emphasis on reading. We did not own video games and my mother would take us to the public library to get new books every week. I developed an insatiable appetite for reading and would finish one or two new books a week. My father would sometimes take me with him to conferences and to hang out with his friends even when I was young. I think this is why I matured intellectually very quickly.

Any life changing experiences?
When I moved from the US back to Kuwait when I was 14, it was difficult. Even though I was Kuwaiti I felt foreign. Also, I was in a minority when I was in the US. These experiences taught me what it feels like to be an outsider. As a result I always identify and can take the world view of someone who is not in the mainstream. It has helped me develop empathy for those in need.

Any dreams while growing up? Did they come true?
I always knew I wanted to be a scientist growing up, even when I didn’t really know what that meant. I was always passionate about science. Today I do think this dream became true in a way. As a psychiatrist I am very involved in neuroscience both at a research and application level.

Tell us about your earlier work experiences.
As a doctor most of your work experiences come during your training. I learned a lot especially from covering the emergency room and working on emergency teams like a stroke team or being on call while I was training to be a psychiatrist. These experiences teach you to be quick on your feet with decision making and also teach leadership skills.

Tell us a little about your current job.
I split my time roughly equally between teaching medical students and doctors, seeing patients and mental health awareness work.

Tell us about your industry.
Mental health care is going through a huge revolution worldwide. Every year more people are accepting its importance and the field itself has become more scientific. There is a movement to reach out to the wider community to accept mental health as a key part of health in general.

What lies behind the growth of the company?
My private clinic, Alsuwaidan Clinic, has been successful because our key principle is to emphasize quality over quantity. Patients are willing to be on a waiting list for an appointment because they know that when they come they will get a thorough assessment and treatment plan that hopefully will lead to a recovery. More than 50% of our referrals come through word of mouth.

How has business been for the company in the past one or two years?
We consider what we provide a service and not just a business. Our waiting list for new appointments is over one year long and this has really been because of our success in achieving results for mental health needs.

Define success.
Success is being able to achieve your goals while serving others. Service to other human beings is a key value for me.

What motivates you?
Many factors motivate me, but key is the desire to leave a lasting legacy in this world and to be remembered as someone who gave more than he took.

What inspired you to be the person you are today?
My parents always emphasized service to others when we were young. To serve another human being’s needs is my greatest inspiration of life. In my case, it is to listen to them and counsel them and help them through a difficult emotional time.

Your favourite thing to do?
To read on a beach.

Who are your real-life heroes?
Honestly, my patients. They teach me patience and resilience every day in the face of tremendous pain and suffering.

Describe yourself in three words.
Inquisitive, caring, passionate.

Where do you envision yourself in five years?
Expanding my clinic to a larger mental health care center with the full services – biological, psychological and social. Also continuing my public speaking career and expanding to speak to audiences worldwide about mental health awareness.

I believe…
That moderation in most things is the best but we should be extreme in our acceptance of the other.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams…
And follow the path to make them true.

What’s the secret of your success?
Living a very organized life but allowing myself space to explore my passions.

My support consists of…
My wife is my number one supporter and confidante.

It is said that every inspirational person has been inspired by another, was that the case for you?
It was not one person, there are many that I am inspired by in terms of figures in my personal life. My father is one along with some of my mentors like Dr. Roger McIntyre and Dr Nassir Ghaemi. In terms of historical figures, Ibn Sina, Carl Jung, Harry Stack Sullivan, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama and Jalaludin Rumi.

Your message for other people?
There is no health without mental health.

Your hobbies?
Anything to do with the water – swimming, snorkeling, wakeboarding, surfing.

Your achievements?
Assistant professor of psychiatry at both Kuwait University and the University of Toronto, where I am cross-appointed to the divisions of Brain Therapeutics and Philosophy, Humanities and Educational Scholarship. I am the Head of Mental Health Unit at Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital – Kuwait’s largest academic hospital.
Previously served as Residency Program Director for the Kuwait Board of Psychiatry, Kuwait’s focal point mental health representative to the World Health Organization, President of the Kuwait Psychiatric Association and Head of Department at the Kuwait Center for Mental Health – Kuwait’s national mental health hospital, where I was also the founding Head of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Unit.
Completed my psychiatry residency, mood and anxiety disorders fellowship and medical education fellowship at the University of Toronto, Canada. Also trained in mood disorders at the Stanford University bipolar clinic and the Tufts Medical Center mood disorders clinic in the United States. Completed a Masters of Public Health (MPH) at Johns Hopkins University. Certified in public health (CPH) by the National Board of Public Health Examiners.
A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Widely-sought internationally as a speaker and educator in mood and anxiety disorders. Received numerous awards and grants for my work including, most notably, the Association for Academic Psychiatry Fellowship, the Lilly Young Investigator Fellowship in Bipolar Disorder, The University of Toronto Research, Innovation and Scholarship in Education (RISE) grant, the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Leadership Fellowship, and the University of Toronto Dean’s Alumni Volunteerism Award. I have also held leadership positions within the APA. In 2015, I was selected as a Bipolar Scholar by the International Society for Bipolar Disorders.
Previously served as a member of the executive committee of the International Society of Affective Disorders, a member of the Board of Councilors and committee head of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders.
Author and co-author on numerous scientific manuscripts, peer-reviewed journal articles and manuals. I continue to serve as a peer-reviewer for several high impact journals including Academic Psychiatry, Bipolar Disorders, The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, The Journal of Affective Disorders and CNS Spectrums.

I am scared of…
Disappointing people who rely on me.

I fear…
Leaving this world having not left an impact.

What is your favourite holiday spot and why?
The Pacific Northwest coast of Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia. I love hiking in the amazing forest trails that are on the edge of the ocean there.

Your favourite quote?
“He who has a WHY to live, can bear with almost any HOW.” -Neitzche

On being selected as an Inspiring Man for the year…
This is a great honor which I accept humbly and hope that I can be a positive inspiration for other young men in my society to do good, not just for themselves but for others.

 

 

 

 

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