Online help for depression felt by trailing spouses in UAE

Published:  12 Apr at 6 PM
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Tagged: Citizenship, UAE, Jobs
British would-be expats are clamouring to find jobs in the UAE in order to enjoy a fresh start but, for many, adjustment to the totally different way of life can lead to serious depression.

Research by the World Health Organisation has revealed some three hundred million world citizens are suffering from ill health caused by depression, with loneliness and a lack of human contact being one of the major causes. Newly arrived expats are especially vulnerable, as their expectations are high and reality rarely matches up until integration is achieved.

For those nurturing dreams of a high salary, dry, sunny weather and an undoubtedly more luxurious lifestyle than in the home country, the UAE seems to be the perfect location. Many, however, find assimilation tricky at best and tend to exaggerate the downsides of living in an unfamiliar culture. One couple who moved to Abu Dhabi from South Wales told their story to The National, giving an insight into the problems experienced by many others in similar situations.

David and Sarah Taylor, along with their 13 year-old son Nathan, arrived in the emirate in 2015. According to Sarah, they were hugely excited about the move, imagining the dream life they could never achieve in Wales. David began his new job the following day, leaving his wife and son in their apartment with no idea what to or where to go. Sarah hadn’t yet received her driving license, and Nathan reacted to the strangeness of their new world by simply stopping eating for two full weeks. According to Sarah, they’d expected a fairy tale and got a nightmare.

After the first appalling two weeks, she took her son to a doctor and pleaded for help. He was referred to a counsellor and, when he began attending school, he slowly started to recover his confidence. Freed of that worry, Sarah began using the communal gym and swimming pool and started to make new friends. Expat Freya Jaffar, founder of five Facebook community groups including a help forum for new arrivals, said it’s more comfortable finding friends and help online as there are no cultural or language differences getting in the way of interactions.

Loneliness, she adds, is a common theme on her Facebook pages, especially with new arrivals, but it’s a start as regards communication and making friends. Judith Price’s Abu Dhabi Woman online forum is 10 years old next month, and gives much-needed help to depressed trailing spouses via its Feelin’ Blue Support Group, a community forum dedicated to dealing with feelings of isolation and depression.

Source: the National
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