Outward Bound Oman recently organised a course in Rimal Al Sharqiya to help Omani youth tackle challenges in their lives. The course was designed specifically to help build self-esteem, reconnect young people to reality, improve mental well-being and promote resilience and employability; such courses are particularly relevant for young people experiencing such issues as anxiety, depression, trauma or bereavement.
Like all Outward Bound Oman courses, the three-day programme enabled the participants to get close to nature in a safe environment away from the pressures, issues and struggles of day-to-day life.
Dr Amira al Raidan said, “Mental illness or disorder is a subject that is surrounded with a lot of myths, and therefore is sometimes deemed unacceptable in society, and considered as “culturally taboo”, a stigma that causes people in need of help to keep it to themselves and to suffer in silence, making it harder for them to live with this burden. I’m very happy to have the Outward Bound team in Oman as an additional support to help in eliminating the stigma about mental illness, and to improve community understanding on mental health issues.”
The course was generously supported by BAE Systems. Ian Lane, General Manager of BAE Systems, commented, “We are proud to support this great initiative. We recognise the importance of continuing to build the capacity and employability of Oman’s national youth, irrespective of the challenges they may face in life.”
As part of her visit, Jo Roberts delivered a focused training workshop for the Outward Bound Oman instructors, and spoke about the work of the Foundation in the UK. James Goldman, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Muscat, attended and said: “I am pleased to see Outward Bound Oman’s continued work to develop Oman’s national talent in support of Vision 2040 objectives. It is encouraging to see this cooperation between OBO and the Wilderness Foundation UK — yet another example of the strength of the UK/Oman relationship.”
The Wilderness Foundation UK was founded in 1976 by Dr Ian Player, international conservationist, and Sir Laurens van der Post, writer, explorer and philosopher. The Foundation engages over 5,000 people per year with the benefits and enjoyment of wild nature. Programmes develop future sustainability leaders, build resilience in vulnerable teenagers with challenging lives and mental health issues, introduce rural employment to urban youth and bring curriculum-based sciences to life in the outdoors.
Jo Roberts, CEO of The Foundation, said that Outward Bound Oman and the work of Mark Evans and his team has always been an inspiration to the Wilderness Foundation, particularly as a late patron Sir Wilfrid Thesiger had been such a great explorer in Oman, and of the Empty Quarter in the 1940s. We are delighted to share our experience and knowledge to support the new initiative of mental well-being courses in Oman.
OB Oman instructor Sokayna El Haddad joined the Wilderness Foundation for a wilderness therapy trail in Scotland last year on a canoe trail to observe our programmes in the UK.
“We are now eager to see how the gifts of the desert environment and these wild places in Oman, with careful facilitation and support, can be beneficial to young people who are struggling emotionally. Our research shows the potential for significant improvements in resilience, hope, mood and self-esteem.”