Helpline to help alleviate UAE residents’ stress and fears and encourage a positive frame of mind
April 12, 2020; Ras Al Khaimah, UAE: Amidst the constant fear of Covid-19 pandemic and a complete shift in lifestyle due to social distancing, many people world over are facing stress, fear and anxiety. In order to assist UAE residents cope with these sentiments, RAK Hospital has launched a free helpline where residents can discuss their mental health issues with a senior clinical psychologist at the hospital.
“The Mental Health Helpline aims to alleviate the callers’ stress and fears by listening to them, advising them on ways to make the best of the situation and in general encourage a positive frame of mind and mental well-being. The Covid-19 outbreak has forced people to physically isolate and the increasing uncertainty about the future is causing a lot of anxiety. Therefore we, as a healthcare institution, want to help people and support the government by providing expert help,” commented Dr Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director of RAK Hospital.
Residents who wish to speak to the Clinical Psychologist via the helpline can call the RAK Hospital’s main reception and will receive a call back at the earliest – latest being a working day. Subject to availability, calls can also be directly forwarded to the psychologist’s cell phone. Residents can reach the hospital on 07 207 4444 between 10am and 4pm daily.
Moreover, the Hospital has also developed educational videos to provide psychological support and guide the UAE residents to lead a more productive life while confined to their homes.
Ms Prateeksha Shetty, Clinical Psychologist at RAK Hospital explained the concept, saying: “The helpline is set up to target two sets of population; one being residents who may become vulnerable to mental health conditions due to global pandemic and the other with existing mental health problems. Often when we are struggling, all we want is someone to validate our experiences and struggles and the helpline acts as a professional ‘kind ear’. It also goes beyond listening and validation to even facilitate changes and increase coping skills via a telephonic conversation with a mental healthcare professional.”
Commenting on the series of videos, Ms Shetty added: “We’re facing an unprecedented global health crisis, which is bound to impact our mental health. It’s natural under these circumstances to feel anxious, worried and even lose sleep over it. People who already have anxiety, depression or insomnia may struggle even more because they do not have resources to go out and get help. So, this particular series on mental health will focus on self-care, how to schedule our days to maximise productivity and introduce a structured routine, keeping in contact with friends and family through electronic means, etc”.
Given the current sentiment and excessive ‘home-time’, experts believe that it is now crucial to change our perspective and look at this time as an opportunity rather than a confinement. It is also important to follow a healthy diet and regulate sleep hours to be well-rested, since bad eating and sleeping habits create a negative impact on our mental well-being. Moreover, lack of physical activity can further trigger worries and traumas that have lain dormant during busy routines. Therefore, exercise is essential to provide stimulation to the brain, alleviate low mood, energise and relax us and encourage quality of sleep.
The World Health Organisation has also recognised the potentially adverse psychological impact of the prolific spread of Covid-19 and issued specific and general guidelines for public to remain positive. These include reading, watching and listening to Covid-related news to not more than twice a day and that too from a trusted source, sticking to facts, assisting others in the time on need, and spreading positive stories about people who have recovered from the virus.