Why Healing and Thriving Together #1
(Left to right, Naveen, Azran, Zann Kwan, Antoinette, Elise, Andrew)
MFH has grown a lot over the years but we stay true to our values, which is to provide the gifts of knowledge and friendship and hope to the startup community as well as blessings to the wider community.
This year, my cofounder, Andrew and I decided to organise smaller 30-50 pax events but every 2-3 months, instead of one huge one annually like Mentor For Hope in 2020 and MFH Festival in 2021. When we first thought of the themes for our bigger MFH events, one of the most critical themes we know we must address this year is Mental Wellness.
As startup founders, operators and investors, we live in a world where many people depend on us for their lives and their families' lives. (I first heard this from Elena Ionenko, cofounder and COO of Turnkey Lender)
Consider this: They depend on us for their next pay check to put food on the table and pay their children's school fees. Even for their hopes and dreams, as many would hope that the business would one day do well and the equity portion would pay off as rewards for taking the chance with us.
It is A LOT. We lead a highly stressful lifestyle.
In fact, in 2021, in partnership with ACE, Safe Space surveyed >150 founders, and found out interesting details such as founders’ mental health concerns and how COVID has impacted their mental health…
Read the entire report here.
And in our life, we need to please a lot of people-- our customers, investors, boss, colleagues, partner, children, parents, siblings and more. That leaves almost no time to ourselves.
Like one of our participants, Diego Taira, pointed out, we can't pour from an empty cup.
This is why Andrew and I created Healing and Thriving Together, a two part series to normalise Mental Health and understand it better. We want to help startup founders, operators and others within this ecosystem to learn about the burnout signs, understand what it means to be mentally well and ways to cope and thrive.
We also want to thank Jennifer Ho from Integra Partners, as she was our very first supporter. The idea of gathering entrepreneurs in small breakout groups and discuss our life-stressors, seeking solutions and simply journeying together was also inspired by her. She also helped to invite Azran Osman-Rani, founder of Integra Partners' portfolio company Naluri, a leading digital health service provider and healthcare cost-containment solution that addresses mental health and chronic disease together, to share insights at the panel at Healing and Thriving Together #1.
We are also thrilled to invite Antoinette Renee Patterson from Safe Space™, B2B2C digital mental healthcare provider and ecosystem and Naveen Asrani, Head of Strategic Growth for Digital Native Businesses at AWS, ASEAN as our moderator. Naveen is passionate about people, products and businesses and making a difference.
Both Antoinette and Azran are accomplished and well respected leaders in the mental health space. Read their bios here.
We have benefited so much from their sharing at this 23 September 2022 breakfast event and here are the highlights.
How Azran got the inspiration to start their mental health business
For Antoinette, how she started out wanting to solve the problem of affordable mental health care for herself and others
As humans, it's natural that we experience ups and downs in our feelings and moods but something is amiss when we stay too long in the 'valleys'.
Recognise the Red Flags in you or your teammates
Impaired ability to work, lowered productivity at work
Physical symptoms (insomnia, hypersomnia, wake up in the middle of the night, massive change in appetite, dryness in throat, stomach aches, headaches, backaches)
Mood swings, feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, crying often. Frequent aggression
We do experience these symptoms from time to time. Notice if these symptoms persist more than a few days, as that may mean that you need more 'intervention' (see next section on How to Heal and Cope)
How to Heal and Cope
All of us are affected consciously or subconsciously by what happened during our childhood and traumas throughout our lifetime.
Pay attention to the triggers (something that affects your emotional state, often significantly, by causing extreme overwhelm or distress) as these are the breadcrumbs that are worth investigating.
To heal from these triggers, you will need a professional to address the past, pay attention to our inner child and finally create closures.
Practise Self Love
Set aside time to do what you love
Antoinette shares that she loves to gym and she blocks out her time to do that.
Block out time, even one hour a week, to do what energises, restores you and fills up your half full cup.
Say yes to being helped
As Asians, we often find it hard to ask for help or receive help, because we simply do not want to trouble others.
But we are not an island and allowing others to support us allow us to preserve our energy and focus on what we do best. (personally I find it really hard)
Put yourself first
We are souls in a physical body, like driving a car.
As we would maintain our car in order for it to last, we need to maintain our body too. Make sure you get sufficient sleep, eat well and speak well to your body (which brings us to the next point).
Be kind to yourself
Recognise your own strengths
Speak kind words to yourself (I'm resourceful and I can get through this)
Refrain from criticising yourself (I'm incapable of doing anything)
Nourish yourself mentally, psychologically, spiritually
We can't pour from an empty cup, nor can we give what we can't have.
Start with simple things: Take time to read 5 pages of a book a day
Listen to music for 2 minutes every 2 hours on a work day.
You will be surprised by how much more peaceful you will feel. The small little things add up.
You may have heard this many times but hear what Naveen, our moderator has broken it down into meaningful bite sized wisdom,
Many of us dwell on why it’s happening only to us and have a “why me” syndrome. Healing is integral with understanding that we are not alone and we need to look at ourselves in a continuum.
We are after all, always a work in progress.
And as hard as it is, we need to confront that pain we are feeling. Without acknowledging pain, a universal ingredient in all our lives, we can't heal.
So what's the pain you have been avoiding and what's one step towards addressing this pain?
Pain is also relative and we need to also be grateful and have gratitude for what we have. Gratitude is a teacher and a trigger to help us become more empathetic, humble and wanting to make a difference to those around us.
If you need to speak to a professional
Safe Space: https://safespace.sg/booking
Continue our conversation
On mental health on SG Founder slack
Before you go, find out what's your mental health index?
Take the test on Naluri here. (I'm the 138,302th person to take the test.)
Thank you to our 30 participants for your generosity! We are happy to share that we raised S$1,040 in donations to Over The Rainbow, which supports youth mental wellness. Founded in 2012 by Chow Yen-Lu and Chow Yee-Ling, Over-The-Rainbow is a one-stop hub for youth mental wellness in Singapore.
Read about Azran and Antoinette's background
They have been through lots of sh*t in their life. Panic attacks, accidents, etc but they find ways to deal with whatever life hauls at them.
Azran's story: https://www.tatlerasia.com/people/azran-osman-rani
Join our Healing and Thriving Together #2
We are having an AMA with psychologist, cofounder and Chief Wellbeing Officer of Mindi, Anita Jiawen Sadasivan. Sign up to ask questions on site or on YouTube Live in this hybrid event.
Big Thank you to our volunteers!
(Left to right: Tauseef, Maggie, YiTing)
A special shoutout to Adrian Tan from Amazon Web Services, who also saw the value of this event and sponsored the food from Fitmeal and drinks. Appreciation to Fitmeal for the free protein cookies: Chewy Choc and Savoury Cheese flavour and Ollie for the flavoured hard seltzer!
Also to Vertex Ventures SE Asia & India for supporting and enabling me to do what I love - to do my part to support the startup community here in Asia.