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Fellowship to focus on mental health in UAE

Filed on September 22, 2017
 Fellowship to focus on mental health in UAE
The one-year fellowship will connect her with resources and experts to increase the quality and accuracy of mental health reporting.

(Supplied photo)

Bin Chaibah is one of the two Emirati women selected from a pool of competitive applicants to receive the 2017-2018 Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism programme, held by Al Jalila Foundation, in partnership with The Carter Centre.


Mental disorders are often viewed with stigma in societies, a struggle that remains buried among people of different ages.

Recently, the Internet was taken by storm when Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington died of an apparent suicide with experts urging the youth to speak up about mental health issues.

Noticing this problem, Emirati Iman bin Chaibah, editor-in-chief of Sail Magazine, chose to explore mental illness among the UAE youth more extensively. Working with young writers, she noticed most of their writings expressed signs of depression, anxiety or eating disorders. "Mental health issues are silent killers. Often, people are experiencing symptoms but they aren't aware of their diagnosis."

Bin Chaibah is one of the two Emirati women selected from a pool of competitive applicants to receive the 2017-2018 Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism programme, held by Al Jalila Foundation, in partnership with The Carter Centre.

Bin Chaibah will present her idea to Carter Center in the US, addressing former US First Lady, Rosalynn Carter herself. The one-year fellowship will connect her with resources and experts to increase the quality and accuracy of mental health reporting.

Bin Chaibah will dedicate her research, through focus studies, to explore mental health issues of youth in the UAE, and address it through different topics in the publication to raise awareness and create a dialogue about mental health in the region. "We need people to talk more about it and be more aware of the problems. Mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of," she said.

Bin Chaibah added that besides the youth not aware of the symptoms they're experiencing, parents also don't receive it the right way. Working with writers among which 70 per cent of them are between 18-25 years old, Bin Chaibah said in many cases, young people suffer for a while before parents know their diagnosis. "They often think it is a phase their children are going through, not knowing that it is a very serious case of mental illness that needs to be explained and addressed."

She added: "While these students come from a good education background, they remain unaware of mental illness before getting the proper diagnosis, so we can tell how worse it can get for the mass public."

Bin Chaibah added that youth struggling with mental illness must be given coping mechanisms that would allow them to move forward. "We shouldn't shy away from visiting psychiatrists when needed. Talking about it would hopefully remove the stigma around it."

Bin Chaibah joins 200 journalists who have been awarded the fellowships to date from around the world. The programme is the first mental health fellowship programme for journalists in the Middle East, launched in 2016 in the UAE by Al Jalila Foundation with two journalism Fellows. 

sherouk@khaleejtimes.com 

Research explained

The programme is the first mental health fellowship programme for journalists in the Middle East, launched in 2016 in the UAE by Al Jalila Foundation with two journalism Fellows.
Iman bin Chaibah will examine prevalence of depression, eating disorders, anxiety and mood degeneration disorder, under which bipolar disorder lies. She will conduct focus groups among university students to raise awareness and gather information. "We will work on educating them on the types of illnesses and how they can detect the symptoms, and how to begin the journey of coping and healing." She will then work on addressing mental illness through articles backed by evidence and latest research she will get access to through the fellowship.
Bin Chaibah will present her results to The Carter Center in US next year.

author

Sherouk Zakaria

"Born and raised in UAE, Sherouk Zakaria is a Senior Correspondent at Khaleej Times. Joined since May 2016, she covers Dubai Municipality, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), special events and humanitarian issues. Her choice of journalism as a career stems from her passion of telling people's stories and writing to inspire or make a difference. In her free time, she's an occasional theater and film actress. Sherouk received her BA in Mass Communications from the American University in Sharjah in 2013. Before joining Khaleej Times, she was a senior lifestyle/entertainment editor for a magazine in Dubai."





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