UAE: Doctors say mental health problems affect kids, teens the most

AP file
AP file

Abu Dhabi - Number of patients seeking doctors' help doubles during the Covid-19 pandemic


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 9 Oct 2021, 8:34 PM

Last updated: Sat 9 Oct 2021, 8:35 PM

Amid the pandemic, mental health problems have affected children and teenagers the most — and such conditions could impact their future, psychologists have said.

Arfa Banu Khan, clinical psychologist at Aster Jubilee Medical Complex, Bur Dubai, said that while adults have adjusted to the ‘new normal’, the youth struggled to find their feet in the virtual world.

“They are at an age when social learning is very predominant, and it is done by interacting with people and making new friends. They are also trying to form their own identity. However, when the social world was restricted, they found immediate backup on social media,” Khan explained.

“Those expecting ‘likes’ for their posts and photos felt disappointed and anxious. They may have become very self-conscious and concerned about their physical appearance. They may have experienced self-doubt and a cycle of anxiety could have begun. This is how teenagers get affected through social media.”

Khan noted that the number of patients seeking her help doubled during the pandemic.

“I used to have three to five cases in my eight-hour shift. Since the start of the pandemic, I have had seven to eight cases on most days.”

She noted that anxiety, behavioural issues, depression, neuroticism and burnout have increased.

Prateeksha Shetty, clinical psychologist at RAK Hospital, pointed out that the pandemic has turned the spotlight on mental health.

“The pandemic has increased our vulnerability to mental health issues because we have been more aware of our fragility; the isolation that we face; and the uncertainties in life,” Shetty said.

“These themes are often masked or dismissed in our daily life. However, when forced to confinement and social distancing, we could no longer ignore this. On the other hand, it has placed the already ‘struggling’ or ‘ill’ in crisis mode as social networks are disrupted and healthcare barriers emerge. These have made conditions worse,” the expert said.

Don’t ignore symptoms

Early warning signs of mental health problems include eating or sleeping too much, mood swings, hopelessness, lack of interest or low energy, feeling low or confused and anger, among others.

Psychologists said people who are facing such issues must seek help or at least speak with their loved ones. They must also try to stay active and focus on their diet and sleep.

Dr Mahesh Netravalkar, pulmonologist at NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain, noted that seven to eight hours of sleep is very important to improve one’s physical and mental health.

“Many patients suffer from sleep disorders due to anxiety issues arising from personal problems, family issues or fear of job loss. It is very important for the patients to receive the right treatment on time.”

More news from UAE