Observing World Mental Health Day
Promoting Holistic Health with Love and Conscience
“We can no longer ignore the need for a massive scale-up in investment in mental health. We must act together, now, to make quality mental health care available for all who need it to allow us to recover faster from the COVID-19 crisis,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres on World Mental Health Day.
To raise awareness and provide useful tips to preserve mental health, the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL) and Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy in Los Angeles co-organized a virtual forum on World Mental Health Day, October 10. Psychologists, counselors, a medical doctor, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, and other visionaries shared their insights on how to cope with current mental health challenges and strategies to improve mental well-being. The day also marks the 20th anniversary of the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy in Los Angeles. Over the past two decades, it has helped many people in Southern California improve their health physically, mentally, and spiritually!
Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze, president of FOWPAL, delivered welcome remarks, emphasizing, “The key to mental health lies in the heart, and awakening innate conscience allows us to find ways to save ourselves before we get sick. We need to constantly self-reflect and correct our own thoughts and actions. When we take a moment of peace, calm ourselves down, and engage in introspection, the mirror of conscience will reflect the five poisons within--greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, and skepticism." "Only through regular self-reflection and correction and adherence to the guidance of our conscience, can we eliminate what is bad and keep what is clean, and find our purest self. By doing so, we will become healthier and more positive mentally. People need to listen to their conscience, truly get to know themselves and love themselves, so they will be able to love others and the world,” he added.
“I want to congratulate Tai Ji Men for your continued active involvement with making Walnut and the 39th district a better place. This is an incredible milestone," said Congressman Gilbert R. Cisneros, adding, “We will overcome this crisis together. It takes each and everyone of us to keep our community safe, and you all set a good example of how this should be done.”
“I'm so happy to be celebrating the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy's 20th anniversary as well as World Mental Health Day,” said California State Senator Susan Rubio. As a member on the Mental Health Select Committee in the Senate and co-author of several mental health bills, she advocated to eliminate the stigma of mental illnesses. “During this pandemic, we have all been experiencing a little higher anxiety and stress. And we all need to stand together and support one another,” she added.
California State Senator Ling Ling Chang stated, “I'm glad to share with you that I was able to help get several mental health bills signed by the governor, including a bill I co-authored to establish an office of suicide prevention. This World Mental Health Day, join me in raising awareness of mental health issues around the world, and please take some time out for yourself today. Let's make caring for mental health something we do, not just something we talk about.”
California State Assemblyman Phillip Chen said, “As a former member of the US Chinese Martial Arts Team, I know the benefits of martial arts, breathing, and also qigong specifically to increase your health, your mental health, also your spiritual health. So again, I congratulate you. Thank you so much for all that you do for our community. Have a wonderful 20th anniversary.”
“I do want to commend you for emphasizing the mental wellness of our children, our parents, and our community,” said Layla Abou-Taleb, vice president of Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees in California, congratulating Tai Ji Men on its 20th anniversary. She shared some of the plans her school district had laid out for these unprecedented times and stressed, “As a community, we need to be hand in hand, the schools, the parents, the community, organizations, such as yours, to get through this tough period together.”
Dr. Hsing Fang Chang, a licensed psychologist in California, encouraged people to enhance their mental health immune system: “When we have a strong physical immune system, then we are less likely to get a cold or flu. Similarly, when we build up a good mental health immune system, then we are less likely to get depressed from life stress.”
“If we are not emotionally well, we can’t be well or productive or functional anywhere else in our lives. It all goes back to self-care,” said Laura Post, a school psychologist in the Palo Alto Unified School District in California. She reminded people to ask self-care questions like: "Have I been thinking kind thoughts to myself and to others? Have I connected with someone that I love or that I care about? Have I found a silver lining, something to be grateful for today?”
“The World Health Organization defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being,’” said Mu Sun Shen, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. He shared a Chinese proverb: “First-class doctors treat the ‘heart’ and treat people before they get sick.” “The best preventive medicine is through the cultivation of the heart. When we restore the health of our hearts, we’ve found the key to our health. Laughter and joy is the best medicine,” he stressed, adding that “It’s important to smile. That’s our secret weapon. Not only does it relax the body, but also improve interpersonal relationships and make us look younger. We can start with a smile on our journey to better mental health.”
Jonathan Fidani, a school counselor in California, pointed out it’s important for teenagers to “reach out to trusted adults or professionals, friends, whatever it may be, in order to be able to socialize and get support.” He also encouraged parents to let their students know that “it’s ok to not be okay at times and that what we’re going through is real” and help their children “develop a steady routine and a conducive space to work, set them up for success.”
“Life is inherently imperfect. Many things are neither good nor bad. When things don’t go our way, we must be more thankful and tolerant. We must learn to think differently, let go, set the heart free, and face the unpredictable future. If we stay mentally positive and optimistic, our physical health will improve. So it’s important to cultivate our hearts to improve ourselves,” said Suka Chen, a former Bank CEO.
Britta Simon, co-founder of the Middle East Resilience Institute, addressed the important and powerful connection between the heart and the brain. “When we learn to keep our heart in a so-called state of coherence, we can assure a balanced exchange of information between our heart and our brain. Heart coherence is a state of mental, emotional, and physical synchronization and balance.”
Dr. Yuan-huei Huang, a pediatric surgeon, shared that “At Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy, under the guidance of Shifu, I learned to meditate. I realize whenever I calm down, I can think clearly what the problems are and what I really need to face. I have more wisdom to think how I can solve the problems. Through regular practice, I realize I can quickly apply wisdom to solve all the crises that I am facing.”
Henda D Claro, an Angolan-American psychologist and writer, shared the mental health situations in Angola and said that education can be the best solution. She said she will “continue to talk about the seriousness of mental health problems. And if we do not start looking at it more seriously now, we will have big problems in the near future.”
Nadia Abdullah Fakhro, a holistic coach of happyology and the founder of Happy Life Coaching Servies Agency in Bahrain, reminded people to connect with their deep life values such as commitment, compassion, and volunteer work. “All of these are very strong values needed to be activated. They will give more rewards to your inner peace, to your internal energy, and make yourself more into harmony with your mind and soul,” she said.
Laura Farber, the immediate past president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, which produces the world famous New Year's Day Rose Parade annually, stressed that we need to “make sure we bring and identify resources to those that are suffering, those that are in need, and recognize and accept the fact that we need to do much more to deal with mental well-being throughout this pandemic and as we recover from it.”
Asya Bin Mahfooz, a certified mental health counselor in Saudi Arabia, highlighted the importance of communication by saying that “Communication plays an essential role in keeping a healthy mind and in recovering from mental conditions and disorders.”
The speakers’ insightful sharing resonated with over 5,000 viewers, many of whom shared their feedback online. Amina in the Kingdom of Bahrain stated, “Beautiful event with such a great package of positivity and the best advices how to manage the lowest moments in your life.” Alison Shan in the United Kingdom stated, “It was so professionally done! I learnt much today.” If you miss the live stream, you can watch the video recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8ERmSRgwME&feature=youtu.be Please share the video widely to help more people stay healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually!