Mental health literacy among pediatric hospital staff in the United Arab Emirates

Nabeel Al-Yateem, Rachel Rossiter, Walter Robb, Alaa Ahmad, Mahmoud Elhalik, Sumaya Albloshi, Shameran Slewa-Younan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 35% of the population are aged 0–24 years. A significant proportion of these young people are living with chronic conditions (e.g., asthma, type 1 diabetes, cardiac conditions, and genetically transmitted conditions such as thalassemia and cystic fibrosis). This group has increased vulnerability to developmental delays and mental health problems, and is increasingly coming to the attention of service providers in mainstream schools, primary healthcare centers, and pediatric hospitals. Despite the government directing attention to improving the mental health of the UAE population, there is concern that mental health services are not growing at the
rate needed to meet the mental health needs of children and young people with chronic conditions.
Method: A cross sectional survey design was used to determine the mental health literacy of nurses and other healthcare professionals working with children with chronic illnesses. Participants completed a culturally-adapted
mental health literacy questionnaire comprising three vignettes of fictional characters meeting diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder, psychosis, and depression with suicidal thoughts. Participants also completed the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10).
Results: Participants were 317 healthcare professionals from across the UAE. The majority were nurses. Correct identification of the diagnosis for each vignette was limited, with the highest level of accuracy achieved for
the psychosis vignette (n = 113, 54.3%). Accurate identification of appropriate evidence-based interventions was also limited. K10 scores indicated 40% of participants had moderate to high levels of psychological distress.
Conclusions: These findings are concerning and provide important data to inform the development of undergraduate and continuing education programs for nurses. The K10 scores suggest healthcare professionals are under considerable stress, highlighting the need to support healthcare professionals who experience multiple psychosocial stressors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number390
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 08 Dec 2017


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