Today, feelings of worry, uneasiness and nervousness are commonplace, and they often result in a state of feeling helpless and hopeless in the face of spiraling emotions. Persistent anxiety can develop for many reasons and globally, there are over 1 billion people who are struggling with an anxiety disorder (WHO, 2017). There are many reasons for anxiety and this can include anything from adjusting to big life changes, to enduring an ongoing stressful situation, to questioning our purpose and future goals, or having had negative experiences that tell us the world is a dangerous place and bad things can happen at any time. Regardless of the cause, evidence-based skills can be learnt and can help to reduce the impact of anxiety in your day-to-day. The LightHouse Arabia, a community mental health and wellness centre on Al Wasl Road, leads the way in helping to improve mental health in the UAE. As part of this, they have just announced their new Anxiety Management therapy group in response to the upward rise of those struggling with anxiety and needing professional support at a more affordable price point in comparison to one-on-one therapy.

According to Dr. Saliha Afridi, Clinical Psychologist and Managing Director, The LightHouse Arabia, they have received a surge of phone calls from people struggling with anxiety and depression. Many can’t afford to come into one-on-one therapy and others come but cannot complete the recommended treatment due to cost. And then there are those who have to wait weeks to get an appointment because clinicians are fully booked. “We have always operated from the basis of ‘what does our community need?’, and right now, the answer to that question is, ‘evidence-based treatment for anxiety in the form of group therapy’”. A group setting has been shown to have many therapeutic benefits. The power of groups lies in the unique opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, encouragement and feedback from other individuals in a safe and confidential environment. Group therapy is very powerful because anxiety and depression are very isolating mental illnesses. When you are with a group sharing your experiences, learning how to manage and cope together – it reduces shame and validates your struggles.

The Anxiety Management therapy group at The LightHouse Arabia will be led by a licensed, senior clinician using evidence-based practices. Those participating in the group can expect to learn more about anxiety – its development and its physiology, while being taught practical skills to manage and reduce the physical symptoms, anxious thoughts and impact on behavior. The group setting makes it an opportunity to learn from and share with others who are experiencing similar difficulties.

Dr. Afridi emphasises the importance of working with a licensed professional when it comes to one’s mental health and wellbeing. When people are suffering with a mental illness they can be easily exploited by others. Often due to costs, people take the cheaper route to wellness by working with an unqualified coach or an unlicensed therapist. The problem is that they can then become even more vulnerable and at risk when they engage with those charlatans. All clinicians at The LightHouse Arabia are licensed by UAE governing bodies. The Anxiety Management therapy group is open to adults ages 21 years and above and is limited to eight participants in a closed group structure. It will run two times per week, for six weeks and the cost will be AED 1,740 + 5% VAT (payment plan available). Those interested in participating should email or call 04 380 2088 to request an initial phone consultation from the team to assess suitability before they qualify to attend.

For those seeking quality and affordable support in other areas of life, The LightHouse Arabia offers a wide variety of free-of-cost support groups. These include:
– General Grief support group (for children, tweens, teens and adults)
– Motherless Daughters
– Coping with Cancer
– Support After Loss to Suicide (SALS)
– Little Lifetimes (pregnancy and infant loss)
– ADHD (support group for parents of children with ADHD)
– Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)/Asperger’s support group
– Infertility support group
– University Stress support group

The LightHouse Arabia also has clinicians who spend many hours a week within companies or schools delivering seminars at no-cost and raising awareness about mental health and wellbeing practices. The LightHouse Arabia is also the only facility in the UAE licensed to deliver the world- renowned Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) programme, which trains adults and adolescents on being first responders to mental health issues, and have trained over 800 MHFA responders in the in the last year. The LightHouse Arabia was founded in 2011 by clinical psychologists Dr. Saliha Afridi and Dr. Tara Wyne, whose shared mission and vision is to make the region happier and healthier. With an international team of over 20 licensed psychologists and psychiatrists, The LightHouse Arabia is a community mental health and wellness centre providing quality care to children, adults, couples and families. The LightHouse Arabia also work with corporations, schools, hospitals and other institutions to promote mental wellness through education and training programmes. The centre is also home to the Raymee Grief Centre a free-of-charge grief support service – the first of its kind in the region.

Read more:

The stress of having a panic attack and how to cope

Understanding Post Natal Depression by Andrea Jane Guy

How to cope if you have Dubai blues

My story – the way rape changes you

Would you like to write to British Mums? If so, we would love to hear from you. Please drop us an email to