BAD Guys founder Zoë Marsh says the group helps mental health patients share experiences, discuss coping skills and seek help Image Credit: XPRESS/Ahmed Ramzan

Dubai: A Dubai-based British expat with bipolar disorder has started a 24/7 online support group for people with mental illness in the UAE.

Called BAD (Bipolar, Anxiety and Depression) Guys, the group serves as a platform where people suffering from depression and bipolar disorder can share experiences, discuss coping skills, and offer hope to one another via the Meetup app.

BAD Guys founder Zoë Marsh, 50, who was diagnosed with biplolar disorder nearly two decades ago, said 214 people have signed up for the group since its launch last year.

Enthusiastic response

“The numbers are constantly growing as more and more residents are shedding their inhibitions and joining the group to talk about their concerns,” said Marsh who relocated to the UAE from the UK nine years ago.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels. Those suffering from it feel depressed one time and euphoric the next.

According to Marsh, most people are either unaware of their condition or are in a state of denial. “They need to accept their condition and seek help without any fear,” she said.

Feedback from members

British expat and Dubai-based lawyer Ashley Connick said he has found the group very helpful, “I suffer from anxiety and depression and I wanted to be part of a group where people don’t judge me and understand me completely. I am so happy I came across The BAD Guys group. The group is very active and we meet every month to discuss matters. Besides there is help available 24 hours. So if someone is having an anxiety pang in the middle of the night, you can be rest assured someone will be there to help,” he said.

Another member said, “There is a huge stigma attached to people suffering from mental disorders in the world. But being part of such groups helps people to drop their barriers and come out and seek help. Many times it can be difficult explaining what you feel to your family. The last few months since I have been part of the group, I have met people who are going through what I am. We have all become close and it feels like we are one big family,” he said.