Shore Thing Surf Therapy was founded in 2021 to use sea therapy to drive awareness of mind and ocean conservation

Over 70 people came together in a giant community paddle out from Sunset Beach, Dubai and formed a huge circle in the water to show solidarity for World Mental Health Day.

Dubai: Yesterday saw the UAE’s first-ever paddle out to mark World Mental Health Day, which falls today, Monday 10th October. Over 70 people came together and ‘paddled-out’ from Sunset Beach to form a huge circle in the water to show solidarity for this incredibly important cause.

Organised by Shore Thing Surf Therapy, the goal of yesterday’s hugely successful event was to lead a community to show exactly how the mind and ocean conversation are symbiotic – and how being in the ocean has proven therapeutic value.

The initiative was founded last year by change-maker, Paula Jacobson, who is looking to showcase how sea therapy works in the hope that doctors will look invest in the power of the ocean and prescribe this as therapy. A part of a global effort by International Surf Therapy Organization (ISTO), Paula is the GCC’s first and sole contributor.

Surfing, paddle boarding and other water based activities can increase emotional regulation, social connection, reduction in stress and the natural release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.

Supported by Psychiatrist Dr Yaseen Aslam from Psychiatry & Therapy Centre, Dubai, who is an advocate for the benefits of the ocean with mental health, Shore Thing Surf Therapy, has been partners with The Surf House since it was founded – and they helped to organise the event, providing a team of coaches, SUP boards, route planning and location.

The is very much the beginning of its efforts – and Paula confirmed that she will look to hold a full programme towards the end of this year. Commenting on the matter, she said:

“The turn-out yesterday is testament the hard work myself and my partners have put in to showcase the importance of the ocean when it comes to the mind. Most people have been affected by mental health in some way and sea therapy is proven to work.

“I hope that the DHA and insurance companies will show serious investment in mind and ocean conservation – and consider these sessions as vital to healthcare, providing greater access to the citizens of the UAE by including them in our health policies.”

Dan Van Dooren, Co-Founder of the Surf House, added: “One of our main goals at Surf House is to get ‘more people in the water’. Being connected to nature and more specifically the ocean, is so beneficial for your mental health. For me personally, it washes away any stress or worry that I may have been holding on to which helps give me a clear mind and is positive start to each day.”

The event garnered the support of Luke Cunningham from Blueguard who provided water safety on the day and their photographer, Max Physick, who captured images atop a motorised foil with his waterproof camera.