Depression is an illness that can affect men and women at all stages of their lives, regardless of their heritage, culture, social circumstances or religious beliefs. However, the absence of family or medical support can exacerbate the problem for some people. As The National reported over the weekend, this is more likely to be the case for expatriates who are far away from home and for teenagers who isolate themselves and are not experienced enough to deal with life's difficulties.
Expatriates may feel depressed after failing to establish a decent support network or to find the life they were looking for when they decided to come to the UAE. Even though many people are in a better financial situation here, they can still feel lonely if they are separated from family members and friends. Others may have those networks but face an unexpected financial burden that can drag them down.
Blue-collar workers may face greater problems because they feel both financial strain and a lack of emotional support. These people may have nowhere to turn if they are struggling with depression or anxiety, as they may not be able to afford professional care. There is clearly a need for the health system to pay greater attention to psychological well-being. Professionals suggest that employers provide regular counselling for workers and include mental health treatments in their insurance. This is in everybody's interests because healthier workers make for more productive workplaces.
Young people are in greater danger of depression than ever before, in part, because of the advent of social media and unvetted access to information online. It’s important for parents and teachers to look for warning signs and learn how to deal with them. Sometimes a simple conversation, or an appointment with a specialist, can prevent a serious mental health problem from developing.
Mental health issues can be cured and should be treated in the same way as physical injuries and illnesses. For this to happen, we need to break the taboo surrounding them and improve the infrastructure for those who need support.