© xpress/ ahmed ramzan Expert guidance. Psychologist Fadwa Lkorchy counselling a teenage girl at the German Neuroscience Centre in Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/XPRESS

Dubai: Troubled teens in the UAE can now obtain professional help free of charge.

Psychologist Fadwa L. Lkorchy of the German Neuroscience Centre in Dubai said the centre has just launched a series of support groups which teenagers can attend at no cost and talk about their woes in a “non-judgmental and non-directive environment”.

She said the group, which meets twice a month, was set up to cater to the growing number of troubled youngsters in the age group 12 to 18.

Wide-ranging issues

“The issues are many, ranging from teens facing parental, peer and academic pressure to suffering from bullying, sexual problems, online addiction, depression, self-harm and even suicidal tendencies,” said Fadwa.

She said although these issues are common among teens all over the world, the circumstances that children in the UAE find themselves in are unique.

“They are exposed to a multicultural environment which at times could be conflicting with the values they are taught at home. The environment in Dubai is very competitive and parents — usually high-achievers — want their kids also to push the envelope. Another problem is the easy availability of smartphones and other devices which kids use to read, research and entertain themselves. There’s far more information available to them than they are able to assimilate or handle and this results in problems. All of this makes it harder for kids to establish an identity and achieve a sense of freedom.’’

She said working parents who are busy tend to neglect their children and compensate for the lack of attention by spoiling them, so many times it is both the parents and the children who need help.

Fadwa, who will be conducting the teen sessions, said, ‘’It is vital to tackle these problems early on and equip children with the necessary coping mechanisms to help them deal with pressure, in order to minimise problems like depression later on. Many parents have told us they want their teens to have somewhere to go for the kind of impartial help and advice they cannot get at home.’’

The free support group sessions are held on Thursday evenings between 6 and 7pm at German Neuroscience Centre in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. For more details, call 04 4298 578 or visit www.gncdubai.com.