Speak LOUD

Mental Health Awareness Through Story Telling with DR. NGHI DANG

January 27, 2023 Tiffany Barnes/Dr. NGHI DANG Season 5 Episode 132
Speak LOUD
Mental Health Awareness Through Story Telling with DR. NGHI DANG
Show Notes

Today I’m talking with Dr. Nghi Dang, a family medical physician of over ten years. He’s provided care to all ages for both mental and physical health, giving him a deeper view of the importance of mental health. He’s the author and illustrator of the “The Adventures of Max and Friends” children’s series and father of 2. Today, Nghi is here to speak loud about responding to mental health proactively rather than reactively and encouraging preventative action. 

Understanding Trauma and Mental Illness

Nghi was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States when he was 6. The culture shock turned his world upside down and he felt alone and outcasted in his new home. Despite his initial struggles with school, Nghi went on to follow his siblings’ examples in medicine and pursue a career as a doctor. 

Nghi explains that mental illness is often diagnosed when patients come in to treat symptoms that seem unexplained. Trauma and stress can affect the body in more ways than we might know, as Nghi explains, and there is a strong connection between trauma and the somatic system—which is a web of chronic symptoms one might feel in the body. Through his profession, he’s come to understand the stigma around talking about mental illness. 

Practicing Mental Wellness

Nghi believes that love will always triumph over hate and that taking care of yourself is a crucial part of your health and wellbeing. He shares inexpensive healing modalities, other than medication, such as cognitive behavior therapy for those with anxiety. Treatment requires effort and time on both sides of the patient, Nghi says. Yoga, meditation, and other practices that allow you to sort through emotions such as journaling and therapy are also helpful. 

Nghi also recommends mindfulness meditation which is derived from Buddhist wisdom. It’s easily accessible online and for free and, unlike other meditations, encourages the meditator to focus on the moment at hand. Mindfulness meditations are often guided, which Nghi believes is beneficial for those with trauma, guiding thoughts away from triggering subjects and back into the body. 

Proactively Addressing Mental Health

Nghi believes in treating mental health proactively rather than reactively. Often, he feels that we fall behind and are often playing catch-up when it comes to our mental wellbeing. For this reason, he wrote his children’s book series, “The Adventures of Max and Friends” to open up a dialogue between parents and children around mental health. 

Nghi has written 8 books, all on different mental health topics that he gears towards middle ages. One book centers on bullying, for example, and another follows learning disabilities. Through writing and also his medical practice, he hopes to give resources and the avenues needed for parents to talk with their kids about mental health, and address mental illness before it becomes debilitating. 

Listen in to learn more about starting the conversation about mental health, stigmas around mental illness, and Nghi’s beliefs on how grit and failure can lead to success. 

Resources Mentioned

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