Dubai: The rising number of people suffering from mental and emotional problems has prompted a Dubai-based wellness centre to launch the first-of-its-kind mental health first aid programme in the UAE.
Open to the general public, besides healthcare professionals and corporates, the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) programme at the Lighthouse Arabia Centre for Wellbeing was originally created in Australia in 2001, but has been specially tailored to meet the requirements of the UAE.
Launching the programme on Monday, clinical psychologist and centre’s managing director Dr Saliha Afridi said the 12-hour “evidence-based” programme trains participants to become accredited mental health first aiders.
Not a therapy
Giving details of the programme, Briar Jacques, counselling psychologist, said the course equips participants to deal with a variety of mental health problems ranging from depression and anxiety to psychosis, substance abuse and eating disorders. “It also helps the first aider to handle someone going through trauma or having suicidal thoughts, non-suicidal self-injuries or panic attacks.”
However, she clarified that the course is not a therapy and does not teach people how to diagnose a mental health problem. It is effective until professional help arrives.
Dr Sheetal Kini, clinical psychologist, said the reason why MHFA was brought to the UAE was because people are not very well informed about mental health issues and do not seek help when they or a family member faces a problem. “There is a high level of stigma and discrimination and people do not realise they require help. Also, professional help may not always be immediately available, so it is important to know what one needs to do as a first responder.
The MHFA UAE four-week course for individuals will commence on November 6, healthcare professionals November 9, teachers and school counsellors November 13 and corporates November 22. The cost of course starts at Dh1,550.
Lighthouse Arabia will also be launching more first aid courses next year. Among them are a 14-hour youth course that will have four seprate modules and is suitable for adults to work with youths; a teen MHFA programme targeted at seven-nine year-olds and 10-12 year olds and a four hour suicide prevention course.