The Department of Community Development continues its strenuous efforts with its partners in the social sector in Abu Dhabi, to provide initiatives and services that support the community to overcome challenges and global changes in relation to COVID-19’s pandemic, which have affected everyone’s psychological health.
His Excellency Eng. Hamad Ali Al Dhaheri, Undersecretary of the Departments of Community Development, said while coinciding with the World Mental Health Day: “At the beginning of the pandemic, the specialized teams have worked to enhance and look after the community’s mental wellbeing, during the current conditions in which have required the solidarity and unity of all, by following a positive and meaningful approach to tackle all challenges and obstacles. The primary role of the department is to monitor and identify social challenges, and to provide quality and effective care and services for all to ensure Abu Dhabi’s residents social welfare.”
Al Dhaheri continued: “The department had launched a number of scientific research and polls since the beginning of the pandemic, namely: Life During Coronavirus survey, Life After Coronavirus survey, and the workers’ lives during the pandemic Survey, with the aim to the continuous analysis, data collection, challenge identification, and exploring psychological pressures, in order to create initiatives and campaigns that contributes in enhancing the quality of life of individuals at all times, which voices the community and the reflection of their experiences that we all strive to overcome and provide a better future for all.
Numbers and Indicators
The results of the Life after corona survey showed a number of indicators and figures, perhaps the most prominent of which is the impact of mental health of community members, and in response to a question describing individuals' mental health status during the Covid-19 pandemic, 44% explained that their mental health had been affected since the beginning of the epidemic, while 38% of the participants indicated that Their psyche was not affected and remained the same.
While 18% of the participants confirmed that their mental health has improved during the pandemic, 55% of all males feel an improvement in their mental health, while 53% of all females also feel that their mental health has improved since the start of the pandemic.
The Department of Community Development launched initiatives that support mental health in various aspects, the most prominent of which is the "You Matter" campaign in coordination with Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis & Disasters Committee for the COVID-19 Pandemic, targeting workers to enhance their mental health.
According to the survey of workers' lives during the pandemic, more than 48% confirmed that their lives were affected after the pandemic, and 65% of workers were worried about infection, while 67% of workers were concerned about the changes in daily life, and more than 70% indicated that they are worried about losing their jobs or a reduce in their salaries.
The campaign targeted 38 worker housings , with more than 420,000 workers, with the distribution of more than 27,000 awareness leaflets and awareness panels spread throughout the emirate's streets related to mental health in various languages, in addition to organizing a group of workshops and lectures with the aim of reducing anxiety or increase the sense of security to ensure an ideal and healthy environment for them by teaching them about coping mechanisms and psychological first aid.
60 employees were trained of Weqaya hotline on psychological first aid and how to deal with workers' calls, and 231 administrators in the workers accommodation were trained to provide the necessary support to workers and help them deal with psychological pressures, these courses were provided in three languages: English, Arabic and Urdu.
On the other hand, the department launched the "Let's spend time with them" campaign, which is primarily concerned with caring for children inside challenged homes and spreading awareness messages about the great changes that have taken place, and taking advantage of the pandemic to spend more time together, as well as understanding the family's desires and addressing previous conflicts, in coordination with partners in the media, a radio campaign was created to raise awareness under the title "from the community to the community" presented by a group of experts and specialists that contribute to spreading a positive spirit in the community to raise morale, while "Because We Care" and "Our Elders, Our Treasure” campaigns targeted senior citizens and the community as a whole by providing psychological support by checking directly with senior citizens and calling them to know their affairs and needs during the pandemic.
The department also issued a guide for people of determination to support the PoD and their families, which provides sufficient information, general advice and how to adapt to major changes, and the guide provides families with information and educational materials which enables them to support to develop their children by including various learning opportunities in order to make the most of the time they spend at home.
H.E Mariam Mohammad Al-Rumaithi, General Director of the Family Development Foundation, confirmed that the Foundation provided sufficient capabilities to contain the family in all its segments by providing social services that ensure their psychological, social and family stability which included the family’s integrated social care service. The Foundation seeks to support the stability and cohesion of the family through providing them social support through scientific methods that raise awareness to understand the challenges that individuals face and how to tackle them.
Al-Rumaithi added, in her speech coinciding with the World Mental Health Day: The number of the integrated family social care services beneficiaries reached 4,828 in the past September, and the total number of social consultations reached 3092 consultations, 817 social care cases, and 919 cases in the “With you, to support you” initiative, which provides the first psychological aid to people who have been affected by the virus, their families, and whoever have been in physical contact with them, also families who lost a loved one due to coronavirus. In this regard, the satisfaction rate of the public with the integrated social care services for the family was 95%, and this is an indicator that confirms the extent to which family members benefit from this service, which contributes to enhancing psychological and social stability in community.
Al-Rumaithi added: The Family Development Foundation worked during the pandemic to contain families and senior citizens through direct communication with them to check on their psychological health and safety and to ensure the extent of their commitment to the precautionary measures so that this does not affect their psychological balance and social stability, as part of the " Do not be concerned" initiative.
The Foundation also launched the campaign “Stay Positive, Better future ahead” and the First Family Life Quality Enhancement Forum, which is one of the initiatives that actively contribute to achieving advanced levels of happiness and a better social life quality and a healthy, active, positive, purposeful and responsible life. Building a build strong community full of tolerance and cohesiveness.
His Excellency Abdullah Abdel-Ali Al-Humaidan, General Secretary of Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, affirmed that the organization has been keen since the beginning of the pandemic to provide psychological support to the PoD, by launching the "Hemam" initiative in cooperation with the Family Development Foundation, to provide specialized family counseling services to them and their families. The role of specialized psychological and social advisory aims to look after the people of determination from citizens and residents registered in the databases.
Al-Humaidan added, through the care and rehabilitation centers that are spread across the Emirate, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra, where an integrated package of psychological and social support services was provided to all members wishing to receive this service in a specialized manner with complete confidentiality through 20 Emirati Psychologists.
He continued, "Zayed Higher Organization" was keen to ensure the health and wellbeing of the People of Determination and to continue following-up with them of them through various means of communication, and to provide them with the organization's services during the current circumstances, as psychological and social care efforts were intensified to include all those dealing with People of Determination who benefit from its services, and also communicated with Senior citizens to check on them and that health and safety measures were applies to ensure their wellbeing.
Salama Al Ameemi, Director General of the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an, added: “At Ma’an, we strongly believe that social entrepreneurship is vital for finding innovative and effective solutions that can help solve the many social challenges that are being faced today, as well as having a positive impact on the whole society, During the second cycle of the Ma’an Incubator Program, which focused on mental health, Ma’an worked closely with the ten winning teams to develop their innovative ideas into sustainable products and services. We also provided psychological support to members of the Abu Dhabi community during the current health and economic crisis. This included more than 400 frontline medical staff at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City who were able to benefit from a number of yoga and meditation sessions, which saw them improve their mental wellbeing and ensure they were in the best possible shape and mind to deal with the daily situations at work.”