Almost half (46 per cent) of frontline professionals feel that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Nearly half of all frontline professionals in the UAE — specifically 46 per cent — feel that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health, with 25 per cent reporting burnout and 81 per cent expressing concerns about contracting the viral disease due to their professions.

The study, conducted by the Frontline Heroes Office, reflect global trends calling for frontliner support, and it has now prompted the Office to launch a dedicated helpline that will provide mental health support for these frontliners.

The helpline follows an agreement between the Office, the Ministry of Community Development’s National Programme for Happiness and Well-being and the Emirates Foundation, and aims to enable frontline professionals to cope with COVID-19 repercussions. The hotline will be directly supported by the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) and the National Programme for Happiness and Well-being, and will be available from 8am-8pm. A total of 55 specially-trained volunteers will work with the helpline, the Office announced in a statement sent on Sunday.

Almost half (46 per cent) of frontline professionals feel that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their mental health, a quarter of surveyed frontline professionals reported burnout, while 81 per cent expressed that they are concerned about contracting Covid-19 due to their profession. This is in keeping with global trends which highlight the need for specialised mental health support for frontline professionals, with health care workers across the globe reporting high anxiety, stress and a lack of mental health resources.

Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan

“Across the globe, frontline professionals have faced the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite feeling the burden of the pandemic more than most, they have continued to get up every single day and help keep this great nation going. Their selfless work has meant that the UAE has been one of the leading countries in tackling the pandemic with sincerity and passion, which is why we must take care of them in appreciation of their dedication and generosity,” said Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of the board Office.

“The current pandemic has highlighted the unique challenges faced by our invaluable frontline professionals, and our hope is that through this helpline, we can help to provide ongoing impactful mental health support to these brave individuals who are dedicating their lives to protecting us all,” he added.

Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid

Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, stated that the national and social duty requires us to come together and ensure that we are supporting the health of frontline professionals in the same way that they have selflessly protected us.

The new frontliner hotline will be accessible through the main 800 HOPE helpline delegated for the Ministry’s “Mental Health Support Line” initiative with Emirates Foundation. Till date, this initiative itself has so far received more than 1,200 calls from Emiratis and residents in the UAE in need of support. Support and consultation have been provided in collaboration with experts, consultants and psychology specialists via phone calls and e-communication to ensure the caller’s privacy.

Mental support team

The mental support lines are run by a team of English and Arabic-speaking volunteers, who are either students in the mental health field, or who specialise in mental health professions like life coaching. The volunteers are supported by a team of 12 second responders, including clinical psychologists.

The Office aims to appreciate the efforts of frontline professionals during times of emergency and crises, and is mandated to listen and respond to the challenges and priorities of the UAE’s frontline professionals. It will also implement short-term and long-term solutions to directly address those challenges, as well as ensure that those who sacrifice and put themselves at risk to protect the people of the UAE are nationally recognised and celebrated.

The Office itself was established in July 2020 by Presidential Decree, under the Chairmanship of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.