In a series of profiles, we at MQ Mental Health Research would like to introduce to you some of our wonderful MQ Ambassadors. Representing our charity organisation, our ambassadors help to spread the message of what MQ does, why mental health research is so important and lend their voices of lived experience expertise of mental illness.

MQ Ambassador Amazin LeThi, who is also an athlete, LGBTQ advocate, DEI advisor and author, chatted to us to share her experience of mental health conditions and why she became interested in MQ Mental Health Research.


Amazin, thank you so much for chatting with us. Firstly, what are your interests and favourite things about being alive?

Going to the gym, walking in nature with my dog, art and culture, travel and reading. My favourite thing about being alive is being able to pursue my dreams and make a difference in the world.


Could you please tell us a little about your mental health conditions?

In the relentless pursuit of self-mastery, I’ve crystalized the truth: my mental health isn’t a mere tagalong to my physical well-being; it’s the commanding powerhouse demanding parity.

Each day, I methodically craft a fortress of self-love and care around my mind, body, and spirit—a resolute commitment etched into the very fabric of my existence.

On the rollercoaster of mental health, I ride the highs and navigate the lows without self-flagellation. Instead, I’ve honed the art of listening to the subtle signs, embracing self-kindness as my compass through the undulating terrain of my well-being journey.


Could you give us a summary of your lived experience?

I’ve weathered formidable storms in the realm of mental health—enduring severe episodes compounded by the weight of depression and homelessness in my youth.

Through this tumultuous journey, I ardently maintain that my lifelong immersion in sports as an athlete stands not just as a background but an unyielding anchor. It has proven to be a lifeline, fortifying my mental resilience, and serving as the bedrock for my overall well-being.


When did you first experience symptoms of mental health distress? What were those symptoms?

During childhood I suffered from toxic trauma along with confusion over my sexuality this became the forging ground for my initial confrontation with mental health distress—depression, anxiety, and the relentless grip of panic attacks. This early battleground was where the seeds of resilience took root amidst the tumult of my mental well-being.


What stigma have you faced for your mental health conditions?

Being defined by and judged by your mental health and subjected to negativity during a mental health episode is a stark reality. It’s a moment when the shadows of perception cast an unforgiving light, painting a vivid picture of the challenges faced by those grappling with the complexities of their mental well-being.


What misconception are you most annoyed by about your illness/mental illness in general? Why do you think it persists?

A prevalent misconception persists, suggesting that individuals grappling with a mental health disorder can effortlessly ‘snap out of it.’ Regrettably, reality doesn’t align with this oversimplification.

Instructing someone to ‘get a grip’ during the throes of mental illness is as absurd as commanding someone to write with broken fingers—an insensitive directive that disregards the profound complexity and challenges inherent in the experience of mental health struggles.


What do you think are the biggest misconceptions when it comes to mental health in general?

Mental health isn’t a visible affliction, devoid of physical markings like a rash. This lack of tangible evidence often fosters disbelief, making it challenging to openly discuss the very real struggles one faces. When grappling with mental health issues, the questioning of one’s ability to perform even the simplest daily tasks adds to the burden.

Within the Asian community, a pervasive cloak of shame shrouds mental health, rendering it an unspoken taboo—an issue treated as though it exists in the shadows, dismissed, and invalidated.


What do you do day to day or week to week to better manage your symptoms and mental well-being and what has helped you the most?

I make sure I prioritise my physical and mental well-being with a regular mental and physical health routine that includes regular exercise, meditation, yoga this also includes daily time-out from technology with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ that turns on my mobile every late afternoon till the next day.

I also make sure stand guard to the door to my mind by restricting news and social media and a few hours before behind step away from all technology to rest my mind and prepare it for sleep.

Animal therapy has been integral to my mental wellbeing. I can’t emphasis enough how important having a dog has been to my overall wellbeing.


What lessons have you learned from your mental illness experience?

From my mental illness journey, I’ve learned that beneath the veneer of vulnerability lies an untapped reservoir of resilience, far more potent than I imagined.

The crucial lesson: perpetual kindness to oneself, recognizing that navigating the intricate terrain of mental health demands self-compassion.

Additionally, my lifelong athletic background has proven to be an invaluable ally, fortifying my mental well-being with the tenacity and discipline inherent in the athlete’s mindset.


Are there upsides to having a mental illness? What are they, if so?

An unexpected silver lining emerged, I’ve forged a keen ability to attune and profound awareness of the intricate nuances within my mind and spirit.

This heightened sensitivity serves as an unwavering compass, skilfully navigating the complexities of my inner landscape, fostering a profound connection that empowers me to navigate the challenges of mental health with resilience and self-understanding.


How did you get involved with MQ? Why did you become an ambassador for us?

I thought my involvement with the organization would be a perfect fit. I had been wanting to get involved with a mental health organisation for some time but waited till I could find the right one that shared my passion and mission to specifically to support the Asian and LGBTQ community.

Representation is important and the Asian and LGBTQ community have one of the highest rates of mental health issues and being an MQ ambassador and sharing my own journey with mental health I hope will help others to know they are not alone and that we have a shared collective story.


What do you want research to look into next in the world of mental health?

The intersection of LGBTQ, youth and race, mental health in the sporting context. It’s important we view through an intersectional lens when doing mental health research. This is my lived experience as a queer, female Asian athlete. I know very well my overall wellbeing and mental health benefited from sport but many of my mental health experiences as a child also came from the hostile environment created in sports.


What is special about MQ?

As MQ says: ‘Research that leads to better treatments, better support and faster diagnoses for everyone affected by mental illnesses. This benefits the entire future of mental health — and that benefits us all’.

This is what makes MQ so special, research is at the heart of MQ’s mental health work.


Our thanks to Amazin for sharing her story, highlighting just why research matters for mental health and why the work MQ Mental Health Research does must continue.

The post MQ Ambassador profiles: meet Amazin LeThi first appeared on MQ Mental Health Research.

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