Interviewed by Sania Ahmad
I noticed that you are an advocate for mental health awareness, being part of Psych Out, which is an organization dedicated to educating youth on psychology and de-stigmatizing mental health worldwide, similar to what we do here at Revive. What got you interested in the topic of mental health/psychology?
I initially became interested last year when I noticed that quite a few of my friends were struggling with their mental health. While trying to help and console them, I became invested in psychology, and as I delved further into the topic, I became more fascinated by how this knowledge can be so easily applicable. Afterwards, to gain more insight, I participated in a Stanford summer course, where I learnt about the different areas (fields) of psychology which allowed me to realize, in essence, how broad the topic is. Simultaneously, I also learnt more about myself which I believe is one of the most rewarding aspects of psychology.
I also learned that you are a founder and coordinator of Hong Kong Joint School of Psychology. Could you tell us a little about that?
Considering that Hong Kong does not have much educational spotlight on psychology, I found HKJSSP, believing that it would allow me to extend my knowledge on this topic while helping others in their studies. In HKJSSP, we hope to encourage and promote the study of psychology, amplifying this constantly developing topic among HK and providing our audience with an insight into this field. Furthermore, we aspire to raise public awareness on mental health issues, ultimately striving to improve our society’s well being. One of our current initiatives is a mentorship program which connects working psychologists and university students (mentors) with high school students (mentees). With this initiative, we hope to allow experienced professionals to share their expertise and knowledge, ideally enhancing the mentees’ interest in the subject.
I saw the post about reframing one’s mindset that you were one of the writers for on the Peace of Mind Instagram page. Where do you believe the “danger zone” is when it comes to manifestation becoming obsessive thoughts, a kind of OCD disorder, and should one be completely reliant on manifesting their goals and dreams?
I think the entire concept of manifestation is quite controversial and personally, I believe that everyone’s experience with manifestation can be completely different depending on the individual’s characteristics. While it is healthy to have certain goals to work for, and that it is great to understand how mindset influences experiences, the most critical aspect of the manifestation process is the “doing” part, also the most problematic facet. Simply obsessively yearning (“manifesting”) for something will not be beneficial in any way possible, perhaps even toxic in some perspectives (as mentioned, it may be possible to develop significant anxiety). Healthy and productive manifestation includes doing everything it takes to achieve that goal, and this is supposedly driven by your intrinsic motivation, strengthened by the manifestations. Visions or goals will only be accomplished if this step is taken, otherwise it will only be a cause for anxiety. Truthfully, the way media introduces the concept of manifestation is almost always misleading, it simply displays the idea that thinking about something will make it become reality, whereas the truth is thinking about it will only help in the doing process, which is what makes it become reality.
What are some self-care practices that you would recommend?
I would recommend journaling (cliche but practical), engaging with a hobby that you genuinely enjoy, being outdoors for a minimum of 30 minutes per day (alterable — this is just my preference), exercising on a frequent basis (walking your dog counts), maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. There are honestly a lot of great self-care techniques on the internet, but these are the ones that benefit me the most.
How has learning about psychology affected your life and well-being?
Aside from an understanding of self, learning about psychology has allowed me to acquire different techniques for motivation and productivity, while also improving my emotional intelligence, which has benefitted my relationships with others. Furthermore, specifically from clinical psychology, I have learnt more about how to help people who are currently experiencing mental struggles which I believe is one of the most significant takeaways.
I saw that you write a column on Body Banter called “Awareness with Adelaide”. Could you give us a brief overview about that?
I recently became an ambassador for Body Banter and started this column. I am still working on my first official blog post, which will discuss the importance of body language, in this context, meaning the way we describe physical appearances. I started this column after both witnessing the heavy influence of body image on several friends and also personally experiencing insecurities. Stay tuned and check out the body banter page for more awesome blogs.
How does body image play into mental health? What is the relation between body image and self esteem?
I think the most significant part of body image is insecurities, which correspondingly relates to mental health and self esteem. Speaking from experience, insecurities are so destructive. Depending on the severity, it is possible for these thoughts to overtake one’s life. It starts off by looking in the mirror occasionally and spotting aspects that are unattractive and often ending with obsessive thoughts, being jealous of others and pinpointing absolutely everything imperfect about yourself. Considering that this obsession often does not go away until there is something else to preoccupy your mind, these insecurities will eventually resulting in lack of self-confidence, to an extent, self-hatred even… resulting in mental conditions such as eating disorders, depression, anxiety…
What does mental health mean to YOU?
To me, mental health represents our emotions, thoughts and our behaviors on a daily basis, as well as how we cope with the challenges that life throws at us. At the same time, I think mental health is also about understanding and empathizing with them consistent communication and being compassionate. Being mentally healthy include having a relatively healthy balance amongst all aspects of our lives, as well as acknowledging personal limitations and capabilities. Mental health problems have always been a pressing, yet overlooked issue in society. It’s so important to be more aware of the effects of mental health in our daily lives. Mental health problems affect so many people around the world. Whether it is on a small scale or a large scale, mental illnesses can hinder one’s everyday lifestyle, social skills, the way they perceive setbacks, etc. Many consider mental health as taboo, and often disregard the topic, but in reality, mental health is just as important as physical health.
Do you believe that mental illness is a disability? Why or why not?
This honestly depends on 2 main factors: how disability is contextualized and the individual’s condition. Assuming that disability is defined as a social construct, on a technical level, a mental illness can cause disabilities but generally I would not classify it as a disability, but rather an abnormality, simply because of the underlying connotations of the term.
What would you say to someone going through an internal battle right now?
I’m here for you, is there anything I can do to help?
Do you believe that “skinny-shaming” is the same level of disrespect as “fat-shaming”?
Yes, I definitely believe that “skinny-shaming” and “fat-shaming” are both inappropriate and disrespectful to the same level. The only reason why “skinny-shaming” might seem less impudent is because there is this societal trend of being skinny. Therefore, not a lot of people understand or have experienced feeling insecure due to skinniness, causing some individuals to undermine this type of self-consciousness. Despite this, both forms of body shaming are unacceptable in the same way and everyone should be more mindful of their language.