UAE: Now, residents can track, boost daily moods through new mental health feature on Apple devices

It will be released in the fall, giving users a chance to express and process their feelings in a safe environment


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Thu 13 Jul 2023, 2:52 PM

Last updated: Thu 13 Jul 2023, 2:59 PM

Apple users in the UAE will now be able to use a new mental health feature that will be available on their devices, enabling them to log their momentary emotions and daily moods, thereby increasing emotional awareness.

Recently a series of mental health reforms in the country placed significant attention on addressing this matter by equipping primary care physicians with enhanced capabilities to handle treatments for mild to moderate cases.

The app has been included in iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and watchOS 10, and will be rolled out to the public in the fall, aiming to provide a safe and non-judgemental space to express and process one’s feelings.

In the light of such initiatives across the world, mental health apps are being introduced by companies on personal devices that will help assess and track people’s emotions and attain important information that will be pivotal in their mental health journey.

“Most people know exactly what steps they need to take for better heart rate. From eating well and exercising, and going for medical check-ups regularly. We want to bring that same level of awareness to mental health. Emphasizing on mental health can help each of us check in with ourselves, illuminate how we feel, and shed light on our mental health for more informed conversations with our doctors. There are many important benefits to identifying emotions, reflecting on your feelings and labelling them, which can improve emotional self-awareness and emotional regulation,” said Dr Lauren Cheung from the Apple clinical team.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over the past three years, diagnoses for depression and anxiety have increased by 25 per cent worldwide. Trends have indicated that this is having a profound impact across all generations.

She adds, “In our new feature, one can scroll through some really engaging multi-dimensional shapes and choose how you're feeling and arrange them from very pleasant to very unpleasant. It was extremely important to us that the visuals ensure that the unpleasant moods felt just as acceptable to log as the pleasant ones.”

Therefore, users can not only describe how they are feeling, such as grateful, excited, or amused, but can also choose what's having the biggest impact on them, like friends, family or work.

Additionally, healthcare professionals in the UAE explain if such apps on our devices possess the ability to identify the components that contribute to individuals’ mental well-being, such as relationships or lifestyle factors, then these can offer valuable insights to specialists when treating patients.

Dr Elena Andrioti, Founder of Dr Feelings; Clinical Psychologist, Dubai said: “There is growing recognition and effort towards mental health in the GCC and that is driven by multiple initiatives aimed at reducing stigma and fostering supportive communities. Logging momentary emotions and daily moods will help users maintain a space for self-reflection and introspection. Over time this allows for a deeper understanding of one’s emotions, triggers and patterns. Furthermore, the logs can serve as an emotional outlet. It can help you release pent-up emotions, reduce stress, and promote a sense of emotional release and relief.”

“As an Iphone user, I use their health feature for physical health like tracking my sleep and water intake. This mental health feature definitely proves to be beneficial, as it allows me to track my mood. I am not big on journaling things like a lot of people do, but tracking the triggers for my mood swings and thereby understanding the model of care delivery for anyone, not just me, would indeed be useful,” said Dubai resident, Khloud Waleed.

In the UAE, those facing mental health issues can also seek help in a number of different ways. The mental support line is available from 8am to 8pm on 800-HOPE (8004673). It was launched by the National Program for Happiness & Wellbeing in support of the National Campaign Residents can also send a message to 8004673 on Whatsapp.

French expat, Marie Dubois said: “Such features will help contribute to the country’s mental health strategy, as I know the UAE places importance on this and there are national initiatives and support groups. So, such apps will definitely benefit more people. This can help improve people’s emotional well-being, as they become more mindful, and start addressing even common mental health issues that can become enablers for coping with stress and anxiety that we all face in our daily lives.”


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