Muscat: Seventeen volunteers are manning the live chat feature on a website launched by the National Youth Commission (NYC) for people experiencing mental stress due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The website – called Tattaman (Arabic for be assured) was created by the Psychology of Youth Volunteering Team, which collaborated with the NYC. It contains resources for people suffering from anxiety due to the uncertainty of the impact the novel coronavirus has had.
The live chat feature helps people directly reach out to psychologists, who can then provide them suggestions on alleviating the mental pressure they feel through this facility. It also contains resources for people to meet mental health professionals for more in-depth therapy, should they, or someone they know, need it.
“We are more than 30 volunteers available on this website, working across different sections: some are working on the design, some are working on the content, and for the live chat feature, we have 17,” said Ghadeer Al Lawati, the social media manager for the voluntary team. "We are training more operators now, but due to the fact that people have returned to their jobs, not everyone is available at all times. But we are still 17, and training more people."
“Before Ramadan, we used to have two shifts: 12 noon to 3pm, and then 9pm to 12pm,” she added. “But currently, we only have one shift. However, there are multiple operators during the shift, so you can approach us at any of these times through our live section.”
Among the various self-help sections available on the website is one that is colloquially called the psychological first aid support section, designed to provide immediate relief from mental anxiety and alleviate any minor concerns people might be feeling.
“Staying at home with all this distress can cause a lack of motivation to work or do any activity in general,” explained Ghadeer Al Lawati. “On our website, you can actually find what we call a psychological first aid support section. In this section, you can find different techniques, such as mindfulness – we encourage people to be mindful during this time, to just enjoy the moment.
She added: “Other than that, we do provide techniques on self-compassion and self-motivation as well. Overthinking is the most common symptom we see as a result of concerns around this pandemic. Because of the uncertainty around this pandemic, and people not being able to predict what is going to happen tomorrow, both outside and in Oman.
“Overthinking is one of the most common symptoms people experience right now,” she went on to say. “Other than that, it’s anxiety and fear of the situation, especially with the increase in the number of people with the coronavirus.”
While many of the concerns around the pandemic received by the volunteers come from Muscat, the team also receives queries from outside Oman.
“We receive concerns from different regions, mostly from Muscat, but we also receive queries from outside the country, outside Oman,” she explained. “We have received queries from the Gulf countries, from the USA, but most of the people who contact us are from Muscat.”