A national hotline has been set up in UAE to support its residents’ mental health during the Covid-19 crisis. Launched by The UAE National Programme for Happiness and Wellbeing, the ‘Mental Support Line’ is a toll-free hotline and messaging service charged with the aim to help the mentally vulnerable cope with the fear, stress, and anxiety surrounding the pandemic.
The service is staffed by volunteer mental health experts, consultants, and specialists who aim to provide initial psychological counseling and support to community members in both English and Arabic languages. Those looking to speak to a mental health specialist can do so directly by calling or sending a WhatsApp message to the number 800-4673 (Hope).
The arrival of the free mental health hotline could not have been at a better time as several months since the advent of the virus and its resulting restrictions, the psychological wellbeing of individuals is severely affected. Commenting on the launch of the service HE Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing said that mental health is an essential part of an individual’s quality of life and that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of supporting those that are vulnerable.
One of the service’s volunteers is Dubai-based professional counselor from Ireland, Marie Byrne, who said to The National, “Having the government involved with this helpline will reduce the stigma associated with mental health and show how they can access more support.” Adding: “If they need to reach out for help, it does not mean they are mentally ill, just that they may be struggling to deal with the current situation. This is a natural response to the change we are all experiencing.”
Operational hours of the ‘Mental Support Line’ are between 12pm and 12 am daily during Ramadan, switching to 8am to 8pm after Ramadan. For more details on the service, visit hope.hw.gov.ae