Mental health in the UAE: Alternative ways to find affordable therapy

Since therapy in the UAE is expensive and often not covered by insurance plans, here are four alternatives for people experiencing mental health issues in the UAE.
Teenagers in a group therapy session. Getty Images
Teenagers in a group therapy session. Getty Images

Even if you have some form of insurance, or can afford an initial consultation, getting sufficient, continuous therapy for mental-health issues can prove to be expensive. Here are four alternatives:

Online therapy

This can have the same efficacy as seeking therapy in an office environment. It is more affordable because online therapists do not have as many overhead costs, and might be covered by your insurance policy. Consider The Truman Group, an American organisation established by psychologist Sean Truman, which offers access to six licensed mental-health providers. They have experience working with expats and ­provide online therapy around the world. The Truman Group charges US$145 (Dh533) an hour, but there are cheaper options, some costing as little as $32 per week. Visit for more information.

Schools and universities

Educational establishments often offer discounted or free therapy. So if you are a student, your student health centre can be a temporary solution until you can find a long-term ­therapist.

This year, Zayed University opened new counselling centres for students in its Abu Dhabi and Dubai campuses. They provide one-on-one and group counselling, psychological assessments, preventive programmes and outreach days. Dr Fatima Al Darmaki, an assistant provost for student affairs, says the centre also has a referral system to help staff deal with more serious matters.

“Students needing special ­services, such as medication or family and social consultation, may be referred to either the American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology or to the Family Development Foundation Shaawer Programme,” she says.

Support groups

When 15-year-old Abu Dhabi pupil Louis Smith took his own life in 2013, his parents set up the Louis Smith Foundation to support teenagers struggling with depression. It regularly hosts parent-support groups in Abu Dhabi and works to raise awareness of all mental-health issues.

Free lectures

Rashid Hospital in Dubai and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi hold regular free lectures or seminars for the public on mental-health issues.

The department of psychiatry at Rashid Hospital has an ongoing campaign to raise awareness about mental-health issues, which discuss prevention and treatment methods for psychiatric diseases.

Dr Mohammed Fayek, the head of department of psychiatry at Rashid Hospital, says the aim of such campaigns is to educate the community about the risk factors, prevention methods and treatment options. “There is a need to have regular awareness campaigns about psychiatric diseases because the support of family and society is crucial in dealing with such cases,” he says.

At SKMC, a Mental Health Awareness Programme was launched in March 2010, with public lectures held at the Behavioural Sciences Pavilion. The meet-ups, in Arabic, take place monthly and discuss a range of topics related to mental health and social challenges.

Published: November 22, 2016 04:00 AM


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