I don’t believe we can talk about true ‘health’ if we leave mental health out of the picture. Think about it: it doesn’t matter how much kale you ingest, if you keep hating yourself or fearing other foods in the process, it is scientifically proven not to contribute to your health as much as you’d hope for. Indeed, stress triggers a sympathetic nervous system dominance which signals the body – in between others – to slow down digestion, excrete nutrients and increase cortisol and insulin.
Since moving to Dubai in 2008 and starting therapy in 2015, I found excellent practitioners in the Emirate, but it was certainly not easy to get there.
One, because mental health is still a topic that is rarely addressed publicly in the culture. Two, because I believe it is even more difficult to ask for referrals as an expat, if you have no family around and all your local friends are, in fact, your work colleagues. Three, because mental health support can be costly, and widely depends on your insurance provider’s policy and your practitioner’s skills to fill in forms in terms that insurance companies can recognize as valuable for reimbursement.
But things are moving. In April 2018, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launched its first comprehensive mental health strategy. By 2021, the DHA committed to engage in 10 initiatives including conducting mental health research, professional development of mental health professionals, establishing rehab programmes supporting people after attempted suicide, growing PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) support, raising awareness in the community about mental health and training medical staff working in that field.
In the meantime, I have listed down some of the resources that I know of or have used, and could be of support to you if you feel you might need them.
Before selecting the right practitioner for you, I highly recommend listing a few practitioners and ‘interviewing’ them: figuring out how they work with patients, how much they charge, if they are eligible for insurance coverage, how far they are from your home/work location, if they are available at timings that work for you, if they worked with patients like you before, whether they are open to speak to you outside of appointments if you require support, what type of therapy they apply and what this therapy entails. It might even be worth paying for one session with your top 2 or 3 practitioners, so you can screen them and see how you feel in their company.
- The Psychiatry and Therapy Centre http://psychiatryandtherapy.ae/
Dr Assad Sadiq (psychiatry), Lydia Miller (CBT therapist), Laurence Moriette (Counselor)
- German Neuroscience Center https://www.gncdubai.com/doctor/
Aamnah Husein, therapist
- American Centre for psychology and neurology https://www.americancenteruae.com/
Dr Carine el Khazen Hadati, Clinical psychologist, Eating disorders and addiction specialist
- Mindful Parenting, http://www.mindfulparentinguae.net/
Joanne Jewell, Parenting and child counselor
- Evelyne Thomas http://evelynelthomas.com/
- Lighthouse Arabia http://www.lighthousearabia.com/
- With Hope awareness group https://withhope.ae/
- American Wellness Center https://www.americanwellnesscenter.ae/
- Camali Clinic http://www.camaliclinic.com/
- Vivamus https://vivamus.me/
- Priory Group https://www.priorygroup.ae/
- Middle East Eating Disorders Association https://www.meeda.me/
There are also many ways to find support at no additional cost to you
- Consider listening to podcasts that cover the mental health issue you struggle with. See my list of podcasts by clicking here
- Join community groups. For example Out of the blues in Dubai, which covers Post Natal Depression http://www.outoftheblues.support/ and Meetup https://www.meetup.com/topics/support-group/ae/dubai/?_cookie-check=ZkLykQWc5qJFLk-j
- If you are looking for therapy for a child or a teenager, consider asking their school or university if they have counselors on campus
- Most of the counseling specialists or universities hold free lectures on mental health.
- Free suicide prevention is offered internationally through http://www.suicidestop.com/ or https://www.reddit.com/r/SuicideWatch/
This is by no means an exhaustive list
More like a starting block. Please do reach out if you had good experiences with other practitioners and I’ll happily update this list every few months. Also, some hospitals also run mental health services (I heard really good feedback about Rashid Hospital), and it is now possible to get therapy online and through skype, so you are not limited to counselors located in Dubai. For example, you could look into https://www.talkspace.com/ or www.betterhelp.com