ENS: Mental Health Campaign
The programme itself and how it could be integrated into curriculums or taught separately will be discussed with the education authorities in Abu Dhabi this week.
It is expected the programme will be delivered primarily in Arabic with a separate course for English-language classes. Emirates National Schools is a private operator of three second schools that are attended mostly my Emirati boys and girls.
“When we talk about mental health it isn’t just because it is an important topic but because it touches on so many different areas,” Dr Hamoda said.
“The UAE is making important efforts in terms of improving its educational capacity and I think attention to mental health would allow schools to take the next step.
“This programme fits into the core responsibilities of a school because we know that students who better emotional and mental health, actually do better and reduces juvenile crime rates, school drop outs so this is very important in terms of public policy.”
In 2013, the NRC introduced a programme that teaches schoolchildren about the hazards of smoking and taking drugs. The initiative, called Unplugged, was also implemented at Emirates National Schools.
It is hoped that the new project will build on that and run next year.
“We used the experiences and challenges we had with Unplugged and developed this new programme,” said Ayesha Al Hosani, a healthcare educator at the NRC.
“The programme is both life skills and mental health,” she said.
“This year we are assessing the situation and getting all of those holders involved.
“It is also not only about school children but parents involved as well,” Ms Al Hosani said.
Dr Hamad Al Ghaferi, director of the rehabilitation centre, said the school and authorities are ready to embrace what is a “unique” project in schools.
“If we succeed in our objectives, this will be the first programme in the Middle East and the region. We want to introduce the concept of ‘healthy schools’ – there are healthy cities but not healthy schools,” he said.