UAE: New programme to help professors detect students facing mental health issues

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on October 10, 2021

(Photo: Abu Dhabi Media Office)

The 'Mental Health Facilitator' is the first of its kind in the nation

Zayed University has launched a mental health programme to train students, professors and other university staff to help them detect and support students who face mental health problems.

The 'Mental Health Facilitator', the first of its kind in the UAE, had earlier been launched in the US in 2015. It aims at training individuals outside the field of psychiatry and equipping them with skills to help people with mental illnesses or trauma.

The programme was introduced because of the growing need for guidance and psychotherapy around the world.

The Student Counselling Centre at Zayed University is the first centre for psychological counselling, accredited by the National Council of Certified Counsellors and its affiliates (NBCC), to provide this type of training to people outside the field of mental health in the country.

The training includes an intensive programme that deals with the most prevalent psychological problems and how to identify them. It also focuses on the principles of working with integrity, methods of assistance and counselling, and referring cases that require deeper intervention to specialists in the field.

Dr Manal Saleh, senior psychological counsellor and program officer, said: “By presenting this program to university members, we aim to remove the aura surrounding and preconceptions about psychological problems, especially those related to young people in their sensitive period of life, and encourage them to seek help.”

To date, 38 individuals have received training, including 13 male and female students and 25 professors and employees.

"After completing the training, these individuals, who are now called the 'mental health facilitator', are able to identify students and people who need psychological help through their daily work at the university," she said.


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Dr Saleh noted that they have expanded the scope of their team and made it closer to the students, as the university established an office called 'Mental Health Friends Project' Gatekeeper.

A number of student mental health facilitators are available at the office to provide assistance and guidance to their peers.

“If a mental health facilitator finds that a student needs to follow up with a specialist, they will refer them to us to be helped periodically and in depth,” she said.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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