Become a ‘mental health ambassador’ this Psychology Month

Rosa Wu shares how you can help others during an English and Mandarin talk in Richmond Feb. 26.

A psychologist coming to Richmond for a free public talk for B.C.’s Psychology Month wants more people to personally commit to combatting stigma surrounding mental illness.

Dr. Rosa Wu is speaking at the Brighouse Library on Feb. 26 to convince Richmondites to become what she calls mental health ambassadors. She likens it to a country’s diplomatic ambassador—fostering positive relations between the general public and those with mental illness.

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“I think advocating for mental health requires more effort than, say, our physical health. Because of the stigma attached to it,” she said.

“But if you are struggling with debilitating anxiety, you’re limited. It doesn’t matter how able-bodied you are.”

Mental health ambassadors, she said, are expected to push back when people shame those with mental illness, as well as encourage people struggling to seek help from a professional. You don’t need a graduate degree, Wu said, just a positive attitude and a willingness to learn.

Wu speaks English, Mandarin and Spanish, and will be delivering her talk in both English and Mandarin. She thinks Richmond’s Chinese community, in particular, could use more resources and information when it comes to mental health.

“What I know about the Chinese community is that the stigma is very prevalent. People don’t seek counselling until it’s kind of reaching a crisis,” she said.

Another part of the problem, she said, is a dearth of counsellors from that community.

“We don’t have a lot of Chinese-speaking psychologists,” Wu said. “I know pretty much all of them. And I can count with two hands how many of us are out there.”

That small number of professionals translates to wait lists to see a Mandarin or Cantonese-speaking psychologist, she said.

Wu’s talk is part of a series of 15 seminars hosted by the BC Psychological Association happening around the Lower Mainland in February. The association also helps connect people with psychologists. If you or someone you know needs help, email them or call 1-800-730-0522.

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