3.3.5 Does your university as a body provide students and staff with access to free mental health support?


Two researchers from CUD’s School of General Education are using their expertise to research novel ways to promote human and environmental wellbeing. Assistant Professor, Dr. Louise Lambert, in collaboration with academic colleagues from the UAE, Canada and the USA, has recently published research findings to show that positive psychology can help support the growth of a nation. The paper, entitled ‘Developing an Indigenous Positive Psychology in the United Arab Emirates’ proposes that ‘a positive psychology approach leverages inherent, yet often neglected, social, cultural, and religious strengths to mobilize growth.

Positive psychology is a forward-looking framework that involves interventions to promote positive outlooks, emotions and behaviors that ultimately enable individuals to flourish. While it is still a relatively new practice, there is a growing body of evidence to show how it can improve well-being, and lead to a self-perpetuating positive cycle of optimal performance, so much so that some governments are now incorporating such strategies into national policy. The research findings feature in the newlylaunched Middle East Journal of Positive Psychology™, which was conceived by Dr. Lambert to synchronize the work of scholars and practitioners and to establish a critical mass of regional research in this emerging field. Meanwhile, Associate Professor, Dr. Marwan Shaban has drawn upon a miracle portrayed in the Holy Quran for his latest research project, which examines the antiseptic and curative qualities of pumpkin. The study is inspired by the Quranic account of Jonah, who, after being expelled from the belly of a whale, benefitted from the nutritional and healing properties of the pumpkin to aid in his recovery. The research will be conducted in partnership with the University of Malaysia Perlis, and will investigate the qualities of pumpkin, with a view to developing a new, organic form of pesticide that can replace traditional chemical treatments. Dr. Shaban explained, “The research will apply nanotechnology techniques to test the effect of the pumpkin properties on insects, and to explore if they could be synthesized to create a new bio product that would function as an effective pesticide, but without the unwanted side effects that often come with chemical solutions.


Findings show that cultural and socio-economic factors also play a role in mental health disorders among youth

July 22nd, 2019: A team of students from Canadian University Dubai (CUD) has conducted a wide-ranging study into the impact of social media use upon youth in the region.

The project, which aimed to raise awareness surrounding mental health and wellbeing, culminated in a formal debate addressing the question, ‘Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders in the Youth: to What Extent is Social Media to Blame?’ In addition to social media, the research cited a range of developmental and societal factors that might also impact upon a young person’s mental health, concluding that longitudinal studies are required to consider these broader contexts and variables.

Conducted as part of the Bachelor of Communications course on Media Impact, the research explored the nature and extent of social media use among young people in the region, revealing that the Arab World has a very high rate of social media engagement, with the UAE ranking third highest for social media penetration in the GCC.

The research report also highlighted data which indicates that, “69.7 percent of students in the UAE use social media 5 or more hours daily and have been bullied online at least once”, and furthermore, “56 percent admitted to attempting to quit social media in the past 12 months but have failed to do so.”

Gaia Cianci, a second year public relations student who compiled the final project report explained, “The research was initiated to mark Mental Health Awareness month in May. We decided to tackle the subject of social media in particular because it is very relevant to a technologically modernized society like the UAE, and it is important to raise awareness of any potential impacts.

“Spending a lot of hours on social media myself made me realize that it is essential to understand its positive and negative effects on mental health, in order to avoid adverse consequences. Through the research, I concluded that social media can be a factor in mental health disorders; therefore, it is important to control its usage and not to rely on social networks to share every aspect of our lives.”

Addressing the opposing side of the debate, third year public relations student, Fatma Ali, said, “In my own experience, I consider social media to be an essential; I rely on it not only for entertainment, but also for career-related functions. However, through the research and debate, I learned what the real concerns surrounding social media are, and it was eye-opening to me. Nevertheless, in my personal opinion, I believe that I’m fully aware of the possible negative impact social media might have on mental health, and with that awareness, comes guarding myself from that impact.”

With both sides presenting compelling arguments, the study points to the need for more research to help inform the debate surrounding this contentious subject. Third year public relations student, Leslie Ogundkun, summed up the experience of many young people revealing, “Its impact in my life has been great, terrible and everything in between.”

Bringing the debate to a conclusion, Fatma said, “The data that links social media usage to mental health disorders is insufficient at present. As social media is a fairly new tool, we are still adapting to its use. Research gains more value when conducted over long periods of time, and when considering social media, it has not matured enough for us to be able to directly link it to mental health disorders.”

The research was supervised by Professor Ode Amaize from the Faculty of Communication, Arts and Sciences, who commented, “While it is important for Communication and Media students to be cognizant of prominent theories of media effects, including computer-mediated ones; these theories are better understood and internalized through pedagogic praxes; for example, in this debate assignment developed and executed by our students.

“Interestingly, as noted in some of the opposing arguments, we learn of developmental, socio-economic contexts, and cultural factors, besides the use of social media, that explain the prevalence of mental health disorders among the youth.”

Visit the project Mental-Health Awareness Campaign for more information about the research, campaign and debate.



Students and faculty at Canadian University Dubai (CUD) have been revealing what it means to be a good student at an event to celebrate the ‘goodness’ in education. Through theatrical drama, a panel discussion, short speeches, and an audience-participation talk show, the University community came together to develop a new appreciation for positivity.

The debate was opened by psychology professor Dr. Louise Lambert, who spoke about what it means to be good. Though it can sometimes be difficult for people to go the extra mile to become a better version of themselves, she said, being good is a free source of positive emotion that everyone can use in their lives.

The audience went on to hear from CUD faculty members Dr. Mohammed Ben Moussa, Dr, Ahmed Jaffar, Ms. Rola Dukhan, Ms. Dima Yousuf and Ms. Sokaina Al Haseny about their own inspirations for entering education and their experiences of teaching students in the UAE and beyond.

Organized by the students of the Ethical Reasoning course, the program of events also saw the first outing for the Student Drama Club, whose members performed a comedic sketch on some of the highs and lows of University life. Students also participated in a classroom role-play and presented their own insights on what it means to be a good student.

Following a lively panel discussion on what really makes good and bad students and professors, the event was concluded by student Hala, who revealed her own SMART formula for goodness; to be Social, to Manage yourself, to be Artistic, Relaxed, and to Teach yourself as well as learning from others.

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A new book from Dubai-based professor, Dr. Louise Lambert, has revealed a simple set of strategies for daily life that can help to achieve the ultimate state of happiness.

‘A New Year, A New You’ is a practical workbook that guides happiness seekers through 52 tried and tested techniques to achieve contentment and well being. Drawing upon extensive research in the field, the book also reveals what science has to say about the road map to happiness.

The book’s author, Dr. Lambert, is a professor of positive psychology at Canadian University Dubai.With over 15 years of experience in the field, she has already developed and delivered three evidence-based positive psychology intervention programs and launched the region’s first academic journal on the subject.

Speaking about her latest publication, she explained, “The book includes activities like the well-known gratitude letter and savouring, but also lesser known strategies like satisficing, dealing with psychological adaptation, self-compassion, capitalization, giving, and taking a social media retreat. Each strategy is simple, to the point, and involves concrete actions or ideas to reflect upon and write about.”

The book comes as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announces the creation of a World Happiness Council to support international efforts in the pursuit of happiness. As the first country in the world to appoint a minister for happiness, the UAE has recently been revealed as the happiest country among Arab nations and continues to pursue a raft of initiatives to promote the agenda.

“It was important to me as a psychologist, researcher and professor to ensure that the strategies were well-evidenced and grounded in the science of positive psychology. In this manner, the strategies enable individuals to achieve a long-term sustainable state of happiness versus merely just feeling better for a moment in time.”

While the UAE sets out to takes the lead at on happiness at a global level, Dr. Lambert’s book aims to help individuals take their own actions to achieve personal satisfaction. Starting out by helping readers to define what happiness means to them, it goes on to reveal how everyday activities and interactions can have a positive impact on our personal outlook.

‘A New Year, A New You’ is available from Amazon dispatch to the UAE.


Dr. Louise Lambert to establish Middle East’s first academic journal for positive psychology

A psychology professor at Canadian University of Dubai believes that developing a culture of positive psychology could have far reaching benefits for the country’s residents. Dr. Louise Lambert is an expert in positive psychology, a new branch in psychology that is not widely used in the Middle East. Positive psychology is the scientific study of wellbeing, focusing on what leads to human excellence thereby enabling individuals to live their best lives. While working for a primary healthcare organization in Canada, Lambert witnessed first-hand the positive impact this new approach had on the overall health and wellbeing of patients. Using positive psychology interventions, Lambert developed a seven-week program designed to increase levels of happiness in individuals. She found that patients that were given positive psychological interventions rather than standard psychological treatment responded more quickly, maintained the positive gains and lifestyle changes and, remarkably, experienced fewer symptoms of physical pain relative to the start of the program. Dr Lambert believes that adopting widespread positive psychology interventions would help the UAE reduce its current health and mental issues, like depression, and the over-use of healthcare services. The result may well see dropping health care costs for individuals, as fewer perceptions of pain means fewer doctor visits. “It’s about helping people find ways to maintain happiness over time and in a manner that allows them to grow as people, rather than focusing on shortterm fixes or immediate gratifications, like shopping and luxuries,” she said. “It’s also about helping people achieve happiness in ways that are consistent with their culture. For example, in the West happiness reflects a more individualistic orientation and is related to personal and work-related achievements as well as a level of individual control and choice. “In the UAE, we found that helping people, doing things for others and experiencing a sense of belonging made people happy and this reflects a more collective orientation that is more prevalent in the Emirati culture.” Dr. Lambert will team up with other practitioners in the region and, with help from a research grant she received from Canadian University of Dubai, will launch the Middle East’s first academic journal of indigenous positive psychology. “The focus of the journal is not just studying excellence and well-being, but studying them from the lens of culture to celebrate the distinctive manner in which happiness is expressed, lived, and achieved in health, education, organizations, and other spheres of life across the Middle East. “There’s a lot of positive developments in the region, but we overlook these simply because we are so focused on trying to fix problems. It’s time to look at the good stuff and discover ways we can replicate it across the region.” The journal will be published in both Arabic and English.


Dubai, March 8, 2016: Dr. Louise Lambert, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Ethics at Canadian University Dubai (CUD) advised people facing sexual harassment in the workplace to ‘speak up’ and report the matter to concerned authorities when they feel the ‘line has been crossed’.

Speaking at a workshop on ‘Sexual Harassment at Workplace’ at the university on the eve of International Women’s Day, Dr. Lambert gave an overview of common examples of sexual harassment, common responses, ways of extricating oneself from a situation and the role of HR in handling such issues.

Focusing mainly on student-faculty cases of sexual harassment, she recommended taking a firm line from the start when contracted with ‘unwanted attention’ by way of emails, looks, phone calls, notes, gestures, touch or presence beyond the necessary.

“It is important to speak up. If a student is inappropriate with faculty, the right approach is to demonstrate who the boss is. If the harassment persists, it should be reported. It is also important to document and keep records of emails and other evidence, as such cases may escalate,” she said.

Dr. Louise also underlined the role of HR in creating an environment in which victims will be heard and believed and the case resolved. This should be backed up by proper policies and complaint mechanisms, code of conduct and awareness programs. In some cases, disciplinary action should be taken to resolve particular cases.

The audience, comprised of faculty and students, raised a number of pertinent issues particularly those prevailing in a university environment and recounted their experiences in facing cases of sexual harassment.

Dr. Louise said sexual harassment at universities was more common than generally admitted. She pointed out that some faculty hesitate to speak up because they want to be nice, don’t want to cause trouble, are not comfortable in being assertive, are troubled by a history of not being believed or are under the mistaken belief that such issues are normal for women.

Speaking on behalf of Canadian University Dubai, Hennie Ferreira, HR Director, assured faculty that the university has systems in place to tackle cases of sexual harassment, for the benefit of faculty as well as students. There is a strict code of conduct and the university is ready to take disciplinary action when a particular situation demands, he added.

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https://www.cud.ac.ae/events/world-mental-health-day


Join us at the World Mental Health Day on October 10th, 12 PM - 4 PM

12 PM - 2 PM: Speaker Series | Red Theatre

2 PM - 4 PM: Open Mic for Students | Hall C

Date

10-10-2019 12:00 PM

Type

Student Events

Audience

Current Students

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Participants of an awareness campaign of Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease, currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and spreading alarmingly across the globe, can be combated through nutrition, lifestyle changes, music and art, according to experts who spoke at an 'ILoveMyBrain' forum organised by 4get-me-not Alzheimer's Organisation, in collaboration with Canadian University Dubai.

Dr Graham Simpson, medical director, Intelligent Health Centre, Dubai, blamed processed foods (which he described as toxins for the brain) for the rising incidence of diseases like Alzheimer's, along with a diet packed with sugars, fatty foods and lack of exercise.

Dr Graham Simpson added: "Most of our diseases come from one source: our diet. Nearly 50 per cent of food in the Gulf is processed. And that is killing us. It is toxic to the brain. The fatty foods we consume lead to serious ailments, including diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer's. Add to this the lifestyle adopted by most people, eating fatty foods and sugary drinks."

Dr Efthymios Papatzikis, Assistant Professor in educational neuroscience in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the university, who is also a musician, referred to the growing evidence of the role of music in the fight against Alzheimer's.

Quoting research on how music can possibly slow Alzheimer's, he offered insights into how music activates the whole brain. "It is known that therapy using singing tunes improves psycho-motor speed in Alzheimer's patients and music is known to enhance verbal episodic memory," he added.

Ahmed Mohamed Ali Nassar, Training Manager, Bin Sina Pharmacy, speaking on Nutrition and Alzheimer's referred to the relatively low research funding for Alzheimer's vis-à-vis disease like cancer. Cancer research gets ten times more, whereas the cost of cancer care in US is $100 billion, against $200 billion for Alzheimer's. In 2015, 40 million people died of Alzheimer's, and it is projected that the number would rise to 70 million by 2030.

Desirée Vlekken, founder and CEO of 4get-me-not Alzheimer's Organisation, UAE, stressed the role of art, music and nutrition in the fight against Alzheimer's and underlined the need to spread the word regarding preventive measures that need to be taken to halt its alarming spread. She thanked Canadian University Dubai for its role in raising awareness through this event.

Dr Toba Elegbe - Consultant Internal Medicine, Mediclinic City Hospital, spoke on the Geriatric Medicine and line of treatment for Alzheimer patients. He stressed the importance of developing a plan with the family for treating and handling patients.

In his welcome speech, Dr Stefane Moustafa, Dean School of Environment and Health Sciences, CUD, remarked that CUD was pleased to be involved in supporting the campaign and called for greater research into preventive measures and role of music, art and social aspects in slowing the incidence of Alzheimer's.


Student at the Canadian University Dubai held a 'Stop Bullying' day to raise awareness of the issue.

Dubai, December 12, 2012: Students at the Canadian University Dubai shared their experiences with bullying at an event to raise awareness of the issue across the UAE.

During the event, Wail Huneidi, who launched the UAE's first English and Arabic anti-bullying website, took to the stage to speak about his personal experiences and to lead a discussion on bullying.

Huneidi said: "As a parent of two young children, it horrifies me that they will grow up in a world where bullying has become such a normal part of life - no-one is exempt from it. It's time for that to change."

The multi-media event saw students share songs, plays, films and speeches around their personal experiences. In the run up to the event, a YouTube video was created in which victims, and even bullies, spoke about their own experiences.

One student stated: "I used to bully a lot of kids and do bad things to a lot of people. For me it wasn't that serious but the effects of what I did were really serious. I only realized it later on in life that I really hurt people - physically, mentally and emotionally."

The University aimed to draw attention to bullying of all kinds - not just in schools and between school-kids. Iyad Jaouni, took to the stage to discuss political bullying, drawing on experience from unrest in the Middle East: "There's bullying in politics, there's bullying in school, there's bullying at work, there's bullying in many other places. If bullying was to stop, it would make a huge difference to the world. We wouldn't have so many wars, or arguments, or different opinions that result in such chaos. "

The event organizer, Dr Franziska Apprich who is Chair of the Bachelor of Arts in Communication program the University, has been overwhelmed by the response they have received from the event. "It has been an exciting journey. Before the event we held workshops for students to create their plays, speeches and films, and it has been heart- warming to see everyone come together and support each other."

Although organized by the Canadian University Dubai, schools and students from across the UAE came along to support the cause. Dr Apprich continued: "Everyone has come away from this with new friends and a better understanding of others. It is exactly what we wanted and we are hoping it will continue long after this event."

The University has close ties with anti-bullying messages as the first National Bullying Prevention Week was conceived of in Canada by Canadian educator and anti-bullying activist Bill Belsey.


May 16th, 2019: Following the successful gala event, 'Music is our Voice', which brought together people of determination and the local school community in a spectacular celebration of music, Canadian University Dubai (CUD) Chancellor, Mr. Buti Saeed Al Ghandi, has spoken to Edarabia about the institution's actions towards promoting inclusion.

Why did CUD organize a music gala for people of determination? Would this be a yearly event?

The event was organized as part of the University’s ongoing endeavors to promote inclusion, understanding and coexistence, in the spirit of the UAE Year of Tolerance. Since 2017 we have seen the Canadian University Dubai EnSEmble grow and flourish into an extraordinary realization of individual and collective talent. We wanted to share that talent with our local community to mark Autism Awareness month.

We know from our work with people of determination that awareness and inclusion across wider society remain among the biggest challenges they face in everyday life. Canadian University Dubai wanted to bring people together in an inclusive celebration of music to help further advance the conversation about autism in the UAE; to change the discourse into concrete action and progress across every aspect of society – from education and employment to cultural and social interactions. The gala was also hosted as a fundraising event, to help support therapy, care and community initiatives for children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. We have been delighted by the response and similar future events.

Studies suggest that sports are associated not only with social inclusion, but also with physical wellbeing and the enhancement of self-esteem. Does music have the same effect?

Absolutely, music is by definition inclusive, without boundaries, music does not discriminate against anyone. Numerous studies have shown that the effect of music on confidence levels and self-esteem is significant. For instance, music has helped young people in conflict areas to cope with stress. In other contexts, music has given young refugees a voice allowing them to be active participants in society. Music has had, over the history of mankind, an incredible unifying and healing power.

How does CUD cater to students of determination?

Canadian University Dubai was among the first universities in the UAE to welcome students with special educational needs, and has supported more than 100 determined students facing a range of personal challenges, from visual impairment to autism.

The University has a number of formal support structures in place, such as scholarships for individuals with special needs, tutoring programs that offer one-on-one academic support, and a dedicated student counselor to offer pastoral care throughout the students’ studies. However, the essence of our approach is to tailor our support to the specific needs of each individual and to work with families to achieve this, not only from the practical perspective of delivering an education, but also to ensure that we support their social, cognitive and emotional development to achieve success.

Are schools equipped to meet the needs of gifted students in the regular education (inclusion) classroom?

Canadian University Dubai is able to provide a learning environment that meets the needs of students of all backgrounds. This means creating inclusive classrooms and providing the supplementary support measures to those students with special education needs, from additional academic tutoring or personal counseling, to extracurricular activities that provide an outlet for personal creative expression.

How does CUD equip its students with the right skills to enter the workforce? Are any special measures taken to prepare students of determination for the same?

All of our academic programs are industry-driven and are designed to develop the employability of our students. As market needs are constantly evolving, we regularly talk to our advisory boards, alumni and employers of our graduates to gauge if our courses match their specific current and future needs.

What we’ve learnt from this is that employers are increasingly looking for qualities and skills that transcend typical sector boundaries. Competencies such as teamwork, leadership, reasoning, responsiveness and ethics are the skills that will help the future workforce to navigate the rapid pace of change. These are the skills that students develop through their practical work, which includes course-related internships, but also through special initiatives like the Canadian University Dubai EnSEmble.

See the published article here:

https://www.edarabia.com/employers-looking-skills-transcend-typical-sector-boundaries