Sharjah taxi drivers given advice on how to look after their mental health

Drivers told how to spot warning signs of depression during Ministry of Health initiative

Taxi drivers have been offered help with their mental health. Satish Kumar / The National 
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Taxi drivers are learning how to keep a check on their mental health behind the wheel and spot warning signs of depression.

Medics from the Ministry of Health and Prevention tested 100 drivers from the Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority to assess their understanding of mental health disorders and how they can be treated.

Drivers were handed information leaflets showing where they can go for a diagnosis and receive treatment.

The initiative is recognition of a growing understanding of the importance of mental health in the workplace, particularly in an environment where passenger safety is critical.

“Our aim is to enhance prevention programmes and early detection of mental disorders ,” said Dr Mona Al Kuwari, director of specialized care at the MoHP.

“We can do this by promoting awareness programmes and highlighting the ways of dealing with anxiety and depression.”

A mental health check on Sharjah taxi drivers has become an annual event, and is now in its third year.

The Department of Transport has also announced a cap on working hours for taxi drivers working in Abu Dhabi, limiting their working days to 12 hours.

An automated GPS system has been fitted to taxis in the emirate, notifying drivers when they are approaching the end of their 12-hour shift.

Doctors said the Sharjah initiative is an ongoing programme to monitor taxi drivers at work and keep them mentally well.

“This initiative targeted taxi drivers because their mental health forms a key factor in maintaining the safety of passengers,” said Dr Al Kuwari.

“Global statistics show the clear impact of mental disorders on the increase of road accidents.”