A 24/7 mental health and well-being assistance programme for Dh8 per month has been launched in the UAE to support students and the school workforce.
The services, launched by ICAS Mena, a provider of mental health and well-being services for organisations and educational institutions, will also be made available all year round.
While the programme has been launched as part of ICAS’s employee assistance programme (EAP), a direct-to-access facility is in the works, representatives of ICAS told Khaleej Times.
Students and school employees can access mental health and well-being support for as little as Dh8 per month. Users would receive unlimited confidential access to a trained mental health professional, a psychologist, lawyer, independent financial adviser, dietitian, nutritionist, fitness or life coach.
The helpline offers languages: English, Arabic, French, Urdu and Hindi. They can receive advice on issues, such as stress, time management, managing finances, relationships, parenting, divorce, tenancy issues, childcare,and all aspects of life and work.
“The organisation launched the service to address the student and teacher mental health crisis. It would provide specialised interventions for students, and works towards supporting school employees’ mental health and well-being,” said Paul Firth, founder and managing director of ICAS Mena.
Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 19-year-olds, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Furthermore, anxiety, depression, and behavioural disorders are among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.
“Several studies indicate that teachers have a mental health crisis similar to students without requisite support. With longer work hours, more difficulties engaging students remotely, and frequent pivots between hybrid, remote, and in-person instruction, teachers' jobs, already stressful before the pandemic, are even more challenging,” Firth said.
“Since the new labour law in the UAE now allows youth aged 15 and older to take on part-time jobs, a programme such as this is vital,” he added. “We strive to create a holistic approach to health that encompasses cognitive, emotional, spiritual, physical, financial and social well-being."
Firth has said the hotline would be answered by master-level counsellors and psychologists trained to conduct biopsychosocial evaluations.
"Failure to address adolescent mental health conditions can adversely affect both physical and mental health, as well as limited opportunities for adult fulfilment. And putting well-being at the heart of education as a means to recovery will help build a community where staff feel validated, seen and heard,” said Nerry Toledo, client services and development, ICAS Mena.
“As a result, a culture for resilience will be created, where individuals will have the ability to recognise and regulate their emotions, and further develop the ability to cope with future life and work challenges,” she added.
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