GLI Mental Health Seminar - April 15th, 2017

Jonathan Ye

Mental Health is a very important and prevalent topic. In a community where many students are pushing themselves to their mental, emotional, and physical limits in striving for greatness, it is easy for a student’s personal wellness to be disregarded. Furthermore, internal and external expectations of students to excel can place a lot of pressure and stress on the students, and cause worry for the parents, which can hurt relations between the two. To address these issues, GLI held its first ever Youth Mental Health Seminar on April 15 at the Pleasanton Public Library. The seminar was open to the public, and over 120 people attended. Most of the attendees were either high school students or parents of high school students. The event began at 10:15, with co-presidents Kevin Gao and Shannon Yan giving an introduction of GLI and its mission. This was followed by MC’s Roy Lin and Jonathan Ye prefacing the event and introducing Mrs. Hung Wei, the speaker for the seminar. Mrs. Wei is a board member and the PTA president of the Fremont Union High School District, and helped found Verdadera, a student-run organization that documents the struggles of teens with their mental health.

Mrs. Wei started off the seminar by commending the efforts of GLI to raise awareness about mental health, as well as every youth in the audience for being hard-working and unique. During the seminar, she first answered predetermined questions, then questions from the audience. For students, she emphasized that every kid is unique and special, and that are just as important as everyone else. She also told them that school was about learning how to learn and become a better student and person. She stressed the importance of learning from one’s mistakes. “It’s not a mistake unless you don’t learn from it,” she said. One of the key things to learn in high school, she added, was time management, which she believes is key to being successful in school and beyond, as well as being less stressed. Another method of preventing stress, she purported, was to only “compare you to yourself,” and your own improvement. She gave the analogy of golf, where every player has his or her own handicap, and points are thus determined by how well you did in comparison to yourself normally. Furthermore, another key method to thriving mentally is to be content with the life path that you have chosen to follow, and accept its parameters and boundaries.

She also gave a lot of advice to parents. One of her main points for them was to focus on their child as a whole, instead of just seeing them through their school work. Talking to them more, not just about their studies, but about their other interests, hobbies, and social life, will create a better understanding and stronger bond between parents and children. She also told parents that they should try to find their children’s strengths and passions, and reward them for their achievements. Criticism, she believes, should be used sparingly. “You only have 18 years with your child…do you want to make those years enjoyable or difficult?” she asked the audience. Instead, children should be given space, from a young age, to make mistakes and learn from them, before the consequences of such mistakes become too big.

Through the forum, I learned many new insights on how to manage high school life, and I am confident that the rest of the audience, both students and parents, did too. Mrs. Hung Wei was a fantastic speaker, and hopefully she has helped many people understand how to stay healthy and happy.