Expert cites pandemic’s toll on mental healthcare

Image courtesy AUS

By Sara Hameed

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – The coronavirus pandemic led to increased children’s mental health awareness, said a government official during American University of Sharjah’s Environmental Day webinar on March 4.

Nariman Ghader, who is the strategic planning and institutional management expert for the Ministry of Health and Prevention, said there was a 93 percent disruption in global mental healthcare services over the course of the outbreak. She added there have been 200 published studies regarding mental health during the lockdown, out of which only three account for children below the age of 15. 

Therefore, she said she is conducting her own nationwide research. It would focus on the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in students between the ages of seven and 18, and how it is correlated with social isolation, as well as clinical, demographic, and environmental factors. She would address these issues using surveys circulated among all UAE schools.

According to Ghader, there have been around 3000 respondents thus far, whereas her goal is to reach 100,000.

Moreover, she quoted the International Federation of Mental Health as announcing Oct. 10 to be World Mental Health Day. 

The slogan awarded to this annual event was, “Mental Health for All: Greater Investment, Greater Access.” Ghader said it would encourage healthcare providers to invest more in social services meant for children.