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  • Event Review | Mental Health for Foreign students in Jing

    On June 17th, 2017, CandleX ran a mental health workshop for American students who are visiting China for a language and cultural immersion program. They will be here for two months. The students are both excited and scared to be in China. They are most fearful of failing the program due to not fluently knowing how to speak Chinese. Admittedly, the students stated that they put a lot of pressure on themselves to do well. Some students are first-generation college students so they feel an immense amount of pressure to succeed. A number of students reported experiencing depression and anxiety, which is not uncommon for young people who feel great pressure to do well. In order to prepare the students for possible struggles in China, particular culture shock, we were invited to present information on how to recognize culture shock and how to combat struggles. This workshop's objective was to discuss culture shock, anxiety, self-care, how to help others who may be experiencing distress, and how to stay emotionally healthy. As always, we use heavy student participation throughout our workshops to ensure that the students can incorporate the knowledge quickly and efficiently. Students greatly participated by sharing their stories and how the first few days in Beijing had already presented numerous challenges. Many of us were able to laugh through these stories. We collected the feedback from the participants to assess our workshop’s outcome and benefits. Students were asked to give one word that would describe the workshop. Some of the responses were: safe space, helpful, relatable, interesting, bonding, friendly, important, deep, energetic, long, informational, overwhelming, useful, funny, honest, and reassuring. According to the workshop feedback results, more than 75% of participants reported the workshop helped them understand culture shock and 83% of the participants stated that the workshop gave them ideas on how to take care of themselves. At the end of the workshop, students were trained in progressive muscle relaxation. Many students said this was their favorite part of the workshop. Students suggested for future workshops that more focus be given on coping skills. Students said they would definitely try to make the best of their two months in China. They realize this is an incredible opportunity that few get. Hopefully, CandleX has assisted this talented group in this endeavor.

  • Background

    There’s a seed living in the heart of a jungle. When the seed meets water, sunshine, air and it grows into a tree; I often say that my own experience with mental health is that seed. When I see the darkness in other people’s heart, it echoes and turns into tears of water, the warmth I feel from people through my darkest time turns into sunshine, and the support that I get from people turns into air. So just like that, the seed sprouted. I named it CandleX. It’s always the tree symbolizes my deepest “Care for the Mind”. Xiaojie Qin Founder of CandleX FOUNDER CandleX was born on April 1st 2015 in Beijing. The organization was initiated by Xiaojie Qin who has been working with International Non-Profit Organizations in China since 2008, and has a strong personal concern and care for the our social mental wellbeing. VISION A world where all those affected by mental health conditions are acknowledged, accepted, and supported. MISSION To provide English speaking people in Beijing with affordable, accessible, and quality mental health Support. GOAL to reduce social stigma, increase public knowledge, and provide psychosocial support for people experiencing depression, mania and severe anxiety. WHO DO WE HELP? (TARGET GROUP) CandleX offers mental health support, in English, to teenagers and adults living in Beijing. Expats and Chinese nationals are all eligible to receive this support. As an English speaking Chinese national, with personal and professional relationships in the expat community and substantial international travel, Xiaojie found it difficult to identify with the Chinese mental health services available. She was searching for mental health support that utilized a more western cultural approach. This search did not yield any positive results and she concluded that the English-speaking community in Beijing lacked both social and clinical support. This realisation inspired her to fill the gap, and she soon after founded CandleX, with the aim of providing mental health support in English. The cost of mental health care provided by international private hospitals is prohibitive. Many foreigners living in Beijing are not able to afford access to these resources. There it little to no support available to those not earning the highest of expat salaries.Life abroad is stressful. Stressors include adjusting to a new culture, leaving the familiar, encountering different ways of thinking and different cultural norms. Chinese mental health care is available, but language and cultural barriers make both access and efficacy challenging. In addition to the expats residing in Beijing, there are Chinese nationals that feel that the Chinese care on offer is too culturally defined to benefit them. CandleX offers affordable, accesible and quality social support in English. WHAT ABOUT CHINESE? (CHINESE MENTAL HEALTH CARE) Those seeking care in Chinese are able to access it from a variety of sources. Hospitals, private counseling centers, university affiliated counseling centers, online counseling platforms and telephone helplines all offer support. There are over a dozen organizations operating in Chinese, in Beijing alone, where people can receive mental health care. HOW MANY NEED HELP? (ENGLISH MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES) One in four people experience some form of mental health issue(1). Beijing is home to an estimated 107.000 foreigners(2). It is evident from these numbers that many foreigners living in Beijing would benefit from accessible mental health care and support. CandleX aims to provide this support to those who need it so that everybody has access to mental health care regardless of their language, culture, and financial situation. CORE VALUES Our core values guide our actions and are the foundation for engagements between ourselves, the community, and our partners. Passion: passion is our engine and drives us forward in everything we do. Consistency: even in small numbers, when there is consistency over time, change can happen (3). Balance: we seek and practice to balance all elements of life. Connection: we connect with different partners to create a healthy environment. Empowerment: we create an environment that allows our community members to empower themselves to lead. Diversity: we welcome people from all backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or age. Integrity: we act with honesty and honor without compromising the truth. INTERVENTION MODEL (4) CandleX’s intervention model is built in line with the international mental health interventional model, positioning ourselves at the bottom two layers serving the largest scale of the general population: universal prevention interventions, and selective preventative interventions. PROGRAMMES 1) Mental Health Support Group English speaking peer support group. This is for people affected by depression, bi-polar disorders, anxiety, and those who are going through difficult situations in life. 2) Community Events Presentations, speeches, movie screenings and workshops on emotional well-being, depression and bi-polar disorders are held in high schools, local community groups, embassies, government agencies and companies. These all aim to educate and empower. 3) MoodLaB | Bipolar Disorder Awareness Campaign This is an art project, started in 2016, that seeks to educate and destigmatize bipolar disorder. 4) Online Education Our media productions including videos, documentaries, educational articles, and a column where community members are invited to share their own personal stories about mental health. 5) Mental Health for Teens By providing workshops and talks in schools and with educational agencies, we address specific emotional needs of teenagers and build their resilience against mental health issues. References: 1 - World Health Organization - 2 - 3 - Serge Muscovici 4 - #mentalhealth #beijing #China

  • Charity Event I CandleX Rooftop Yoga, Sunday Weekly at Sunset

    We are now offering limited free spots to people that are going through depression or severe anxiety. For eligibility, to check eligibility, please read the info section. Drawn by the idea of having a yoga session at sunset, on the rooftop of old Beijing hutong house, where everyone can relax afterwards with a cup of tea and social time, we started Rooftop Yoga. Yoga is not just for the body, it’s also for the mind. We wanted to give like-minded people the opportunity to get to know each other in a cozy setting. So when our good friend generously offered her private rooftop space, we felt like it was the right time to organize an intimate cozy yoga session. (It will be rescheduled if the Air Pollution is over 150) Rooftop Yoga= 1 hour yoga+ 1 hour rooftop social + 1 drink Max number: 12 spots Level: suitable for beginner or medium level Time: every Sunday sunset time 17:00-19:00, April –Oct 2017 Fee: 100rmb including a drink (all proceeds go to mental health non-profit activities) To bring: Yoga mat + Water bottle (we do not have an extra mat) Location: Nanluoguxiang area (Details in the registration form) Scan the QR code to register Care Free Ticket: For people with living with depression, we encourage you to come by offering you a free yoga spot. Yoga has proven to be effective in recovering, and building mental resilience against relapse. Please come join us. Eligibility: People who are currently going through depression People who are making less than RMB8000/month We have limited free spots. The tickets are based on first come first serve basis. CandleX rooftop yoga authentic Beijing style What? Extra Tea?!-- yes, we provide extra tea to you if you bring your own glass or bottle. We know you care about the environment too! #mentalhealth #depression #Beijing

  • Event Review | MoodlaB Emotional Wellbeing Workshop with WCO

    On the 19th of March, 2017 CandleX held its second Emotional Wellbeing Workshop, as a part of its Bipolar Disorder Awareness Campaign. These workshops are a major part of the community education pillar of the campaign. The second workshop took place at the W_Stage Beijing at World Culture Open, at Dangdai MOMA. The workshop lasted for more than two hours (way longer than originally planned due to participants enthusiasm) and was filled with lively discussions, physical and artistic activities, and informative presentations. The event had an attendance of around twenty young locals and expats. Muscle relaxation for emotion relaxation The event was led by CandleX’s technical team: Melena Slaven, Kate Lee, and joined by Jess Hardcastle, and Ugnė Mikalajūnaitė. The event was hosted by Mara Horowitz, the Operation officer from CandleX. If you have been following our news, you’d know by now what our workshops are like. Today, let’s take a look at some pictures from our workshop. CandleX’s workshop facilitators, volunteers and organizers You remember Ugne Mikalajunaite? Coordinator of moodlab project, and an inspiring individual sharing her own story with bipolar disorder to raise awareness. Melena Slaven giving a presentation on the diversity of emotions. Physical movement for emotion circulation. Participants engaging in more talks and discussions. A drawing activity that helps to visualize one’s emotions. Breathe to be aware of your emotions. Collecting feedback from participants to improve our workshop. We strive to provide better information, in the most powerful way to have an positive impact in lives of the community. The workshop was much enjoyed by the participants. They were open to share various experiences from their lives, in regards to dealing with different emotions and mental health issues. The activity allowed everyone to not only listen to the presenters, but also move around, and try out different ways of stress release, such as popping balloons or tearing newspaper. Everyone was able to leave the workshop with the main take-away that there are no bad or good emotions, only good or bad reactions to them. Want to join us for the next workshop? Follow our we chat account - you can scan the QR code at the bottom of this post. _______________________________________________________________________ Coming up Rooftop Yoga is back! This is an comfortable, social place for people who make an effort in enhancing wellbeing to come together, do yoga, drink tea and hang out. Our first session in 2017 will be on 16th April. Registration Open now. For details, please go to Roof Yoga (click here) post. 12 spots only and half are gone. This MoodlaB Emotional Wellbeing Workshop is one of the major parts of the CandleX MoodlaB Project – Bipolar Disorder Awareness Campaign that will run till 2018. Several of the participants in the workshop will continue their participation through empowering photo-shoots with a globally known Spanish photographer Pere Ibañez. Selected photos will be released throughout a year both online and in exhibitions domestically and internationally. The project has many activities included, such as a video campaign, subway ad campaign, interviews, online psychosocial education project and more. #Beijing #depression #mentalhealth #bipolar #workshop #moodlab

  • Event Review | CandleX MoodlaB 1st Emotional Wellbeing Workshop 17th Dec 2016

    Special thanks to Charles Turner for the pictures On the 17th of Deceomber 2016 CandleX held an Emotional Wellbeing Workshop. This was a key event in the organization’s 18 month long MoodlaB project aimed at increasing awareness of Bipolar Disorder. A group of facilitators with CandleX founder, Xiaojie Qin in the lead, led the workshop. It was held at UCCA, located in the 798 Art District of Beijing. The two-hour long workshop was filled with various activities and discussions and was attended by over 20 local and international people of different ages and genders. Several CandleX community members supported the event: Rose Tenyotkina, Melena Slaven, Kate Lee, Jess Hardcastle, and Ugnė Mikalajūnaitė all attended. Quite a few partners and media representatives also joined in. One of the main goals of the workshop was to increase awareness of Bipolar Disorder. It is still very much stigmatized or not even known about in China. Some of the workshop participants had not previously heard about the disorder and were very glad to be introduced to it. Another goal of this event was to provide support to the general public in dealing with emotions. The participants were introduced to different emotions and through a variety of activities were able to understand themselves better and learn to recognize their feelings. The workshop started with an activity to enable participants to simply relax and let go of any worries they may have. Kate Lee facilitated this relaxation by leading the participants through a variety of body movement activities – such as walking around the hall, stretching and moving freely to emotion evoking music. This was an amazing way to begin a workshop that was intended to help people break through emotional barriers and release emotions that may be trapped internally and preventing the individual from living a healthy and fulfilling life. Many participants expressed their gratefulness for the efficacy of this activity and some were even moved to tears. The second part of the workshop involved a discussion about different emotions. The participants had a chance to share their thoughts about “emotions”. Everyone shared whatever came to mind when hearing this word. The ideas ranged from key-words such as “signals” to more specific emotions, such as “lonely” or “joy”. Xiaojie Qin gave an introduction to the huge diversity of emotions, their intensity, frequency and importance. Many participants may not have known some of the terms for emotions due to a linguistic barrier, thus the discussion and colorful presentation provided them with a new means of expression. After getting to know the different types of emotions, the participants were more closely introduced to bipolar disorder. This illness is “a mental condition marked by alternating periods and extreme shifts of elation and depression”. The participants were led to understand how the mood shifts of someone with bipolar disorder differ to those of someone who doesn’t have bipolar. To give a more individual touch to the theoretical presentation, Ugnė Mikalajūnaitė, who has personal experience with bipolar disorder, was asked to share her story. It helped the audience to better understand the illness, and also to become more familiar with different ways of accepting emotions in one’s life. The next part of the workshop discussed emotional intelligence. The participants were invited to share their own experiences with controlling emotions and also how they release negative emotions. Everyone had a method to share – from crying to dancing to listening to uplifting music. Everyone sometimes feels angry or sad and the ways people use to to express and release these feelings differ from person to person. It is wonderful to be made aware of different people’s strategies and methods. The final activity of the workshop allowed participants to think about the physical influence that emotions can have on the body. Everyone was given a template of the human body and asked to think about the emotions that they experience most intensely during life. They were then asked to consider which body part that emotion affects the most and write the emotion on the corresponding body part. The final step was to match a color to each emotion and to color in the template. It was a very personal and insightful activity. Everyone associates different emotions with different colors and different body parts. It was a great way to finish the workshop and gave us an opportunity to use the freshly acquired understanding and vocabulary. The main thing that we took away from this workshop was an awareness that there are no right or wrong emotions, and that each feeling and type of mood needs to be understood and accepted. Hopefully, a positive change was ignited in the participants’ minds, so that they are able to learn how to better express their emotions and also to gain an understanding of how to best release their emotions. CandleX will be organizing another Emotional Wellbeing Workshop on 19th March 2017. Anyone interested in attending will be able to register starting from February 2017. This MoodlaB Emotional Wellbeing Workshop is one of the major components of the CandleX MoodlaB Project – Bipolar Disorder Awareness Campaign that will run for another year. Several of the participants in the workshop will continue their participation through empowering photo-shoots with the globally renowned Spanish photographer, Pere Ibañez. Selected photos will be released throughout the year, both online and in both domestic and international exhibitions. Currently, we have released two pictures in Los Angeles, U.S.A. We are currently recruiting more models to join our exhibitions. The project involves many other exciting activities, such as a video campaign, a subway ad campaign, interviews, online psychosocial education project and more. For more info, please visit our MoodLaB Project Announcement.

  • Event | MoodLab Emotional Wellbeing Workshop for A Better Self

    Do you feel sad and depressed after a relationship ends? Are you frustrated and angry when something doesn’t go as planned? Are you an emotional wreak after taking a test? Are you afraid to change your job? We all have these feelings, and likely much more. Our emotions can vary day to day, moment to moment. Some of these are good feelings that we seek more of, while others we are ashamed of and don’t want to admit we experience them. We often don’t know how to deal with these more negative emotions. In order to address this issue, we invite you to join our MoodLab Emotional Wellbeing Workshop at UCCA and learn skills to handle an array of emotions. In this workshop, we will explore the range of human emotions, and spectrum of moods through learner centered approach using art and psychosocial education including body movement, drawing, group reflection, and theater games to engage the participate to experience the spectrum of emotions; mini psychoeducation elements including personal story telling, and psychosocial presentation will be introduced. More Details Time: 1st session, 14:15-16:30 December 17th 2016 (Please stay tuned for following sessions) Location: UCCA Fee: Scholarship for participation Clothes: stretchy comfortable clothes RSVP: email us your name, country of origins, gender, age and intention to participate. We will contact the selected applicants to grant scholarship Participation: Registration and tickets at UCCA front desk 30 mins before the workshop. 30 mins into the workshop, the participation will be denied. Do you want to join us? If you are: Above 18 years old and fluent in English Strongly interested in mood management Open-minded and easygoing to participate in various activities through the workshop What is the MoodLab Project? CandleX initiated the MoodLaB project in July 2016 to raise awareness for Bipolar Disorder, a commonly misdiagnosed and misunderstood mental illness. It’s a year-long project with 7 educational events: emotional well-being workshops, a photoshoot, psychosocial education, a video campaign, an interactive art exhibition, and subway campaign. #Moodlab #bipolar #depression #Beijing #China

  • Event Review | Importance of Mental Health at Dulwich College Beijing, 7th Dec 2016

    On the 7th of December 2016, CandleX was invited to give a speech for a group of international and Chinese students at the Dulwich College Beijing. Dulwich College Beijing is a British international school with several campuses in Beijing, China. It has over 1400 students and cover primary school to high school education. The event on Wednesday was attended by 15-18-year-old students. Xiaojie, Founder and Executive Director at CandleX, delivered a speech. The main goal of Xiaojie’s speech was to get the audience to understand the importance of mental health, as well as starting a conversation on emotional wellbeing in school for students. Xiaojie used interactive activities, visuals, and statistics to present the prevalence and severity of depression, geographic differences, as well as empirical evidence through CandleX’s work in Beijing. Xiaojie started her speech by asking the audience to close their eyes, and then asked them to raise hands if they agree with certain casual questions. Gradually the questions are led to more personal and inquired about students’ mood. From the show of hands, it was obvious that the students are experiencing a broader range of emotions including frustration, anger, happy, anxiety, exhaustion, as well as happiness. Students were very open about recognizing negative feelings – more than half of the students raised their hands when asked about the feelings of sadness and anxiety. This is in line with many studies on teenagers who face overwhelming amount of pressure and expectation on school performances as well as personal growth. Later on the speech transitioned into more statistics and facts-based part. Xiaojie focused on the key mental health facts directly relating to teenagers. The visual infographics and maps helped the pupils to understand the mental health issues facing their peers all around the world. Almost 50% of teenagers tend to experience feelings of anxiety or depression due to school stress, bullying, and other reasons. Xiaojie also talked about her field trip experience in Yunnan, and the survey on mental health done in rural primary school. Students had a chance to think about the situation they’re in and also be grateful about all the resources available to them in the capital. Students were also introduced to the work CandleX does in Beijing, especially the mental health support groups. Xiaojie stressed the importance of having a support system, and the positive impact it has on people suffering from mental illness. Furthermore, she highlighted that the mental health problems, such as depression, do affect those who seem to be the most successful in their career and personal life. Whoever that’s experiencing the symptoms should not feel ashamed. The session ended with a short Q&A session during which students could inquire Xiaojie about the presentation, emotional wellbeing, and mental health. This speech was the first of its kind at the Dulwich College Beijing, which is a very important step towards understanding and raising awareness about mental health. It will take some time for students to understand everything, but it is, nevertheless, a seed that we plant in their minds. Hopefully, the students left the session with an understanding that mental health issues can happen to anyone, thus we need to learn and be compassionate to each other. Dulwich College has been very proactive in supporting the children’s mental health wellbeing, which is essential to one’s long term development. We welcome more schools to collaborate on campaigning for mental health on campus. Please get in touch to organise a workshop. #mentalhealth #teens #Beijing #schools

  • Event Review | CandleX on Compassion with British Club Beijing

    On November 8, 2016, CandleX was invited to speak at the biweekly British Cub of Beijing meeting on mental health. The British Club is run by a team of international volunteers who live in and around Beijing and Shunyi. Their program of activities is aimed at entertaining and informing members and guests on different aspects of life in Beijing. Through this talk, Marco wanted to inform and educate the audience on the reality, nature, and dangers of living with a mental illness. Marco used a combination of statistics and personal accounts to illustrate the challenges faced by those in the mental community. By combing numbers and the tales of his own struggles, he could give the audience a deeper understanding in a very short amount of time. Marco started by expressing his concepts and understanding of both empathy and compassion. In addition, Marco brought in some new concepts to help increase empathy among the audience and provided them with avenues for approaching those with mental health issues. By describing the Mindfulness movement, the audience was introduced to exercises and practices that not only benefit society as a whole, but can be used specifically with mental health suffering to help with current treatment plans of medication and therapy. By knowing how to share a person’s pain, getting ridding of the “Us vs. Them” mentality that so often separates mental illness sufferers from everyone else, and seeing the troubles of others in the community as just an extension of our own struggles, Marco hopes that the audience in the future will learn to put aside prejudices, reject stigma and open themselves with empathy towards those in need. To finish, Marco gave a small tutorial on how the members could reach out to their friends, family and anyone in their community who might be in need, and how they themselves could ask for help. By teaching the twin concepts of “vulnerability breeds empathy” and “micro-empathy,” Marco hoped to give a new perspective on creating compassionate relationships. First, “vulnerability breeds empathy” describes how, by being open and vulnerable about our life experiences to others, we can give them a safe place to come to if they are ever in need, because they will feel less likely to be judged by a person who has already preemptively opened up to them and been completely honest. Second, with “micro-empathy,” Marco described that a person in need of finding an empathetic listener who would be truly willing to help without judgment, can start testing a social network by opening up to others slowly and without revealing too many struggles, but that by watching for those that respond most empathetically to small pains, a friend might be found capable of sharing empathy for great life suffering. In the end, Marco’s message of awareness, understanding and hope received a positive response. #Beijing #depression #anxiety #mentalhealth

  • Event Review | The Taboo of Suicide in China

    Small and intimate gathering For the taboo of suicide On the 10th of September – the World Suicide Prevention Day – Xiaojie Qin, the founder of CandleX, took part in a Beijing Community Dinners’ event. The discussion was on the pressing topic of suicide in China. Both Beijing community members and journalists from Global Times, CNN, and Xinhua news joined the small gathering over a shared meal. The intention of this dinner and discussion was to shed more light on the often unspoken matter of suicide. Xiaojie talked mainly about the prevalence of suicide and ways to spot the warning signs. It is of utter importance to be cautious of these signs and be able to help oneself and others during hard times. Other participants joined in the discussion sharing their thoughts and experiences. Claudine Housen from Global Times followed up the discussion by interviewing Xiaojie and several other community members for their publication on suicide prevention. The article was mainly written for the purpose of both helping the individuals and allowing the community to not be afraid to speak about suicide. You can read the article here. CandleX’s Resources Are you or a friend in a Crisis? Crisis Support Your questions on mental health | CandleX Classroom Depression stories from our community members (both adults and teens) CandleX Column | Community Writing Pretreatment CandleX Wechat Groups all ages, add our admin: niama_elazzab for 15-22 year old, add our admin: amaraprenderyya Peer Support Group biweekly meetings and biweekly hangout

  • Event Review | CandleX at Jing Kids Salon

    In recent months, the Beijing community has been showing a growing interest in the topic of depression. This month, we were invited by JingKids to offer a gender perspective to it. Upon invitation to attend their monthly salon, we are honored to have Enoch (pen name: Noch Noch) represent the organization and share her experience as a mother and a female executive who has suffered from depression. The talk took place at Sanfine Hospital on the morning of 13 October. It was a cozy set up with about 20 participants. Enoch started off by explaining the work that CandleX does in the Beijing community. She outlined our aspiration to raise awareness about bipolar and depression and gave a summary of some of our recent events. Enoch then shared her personal journey in Chinese. The participants took a moment to introduce themselves and their motivation for attending the talk. They either had similar experiences, or simply wanted to know more about depression. Some had friends or family who exhibited depressive symptoms, while others wanted to know how to help those in need. Enoch explained what it was like for her during her depression – as if hit by an avalanche and stuck under 50 feet of snow. She talked about how clinical depression, is defined by the World Health Organization, and how she, through a mélange of medication, therapy, writing, self-discovery, and projection of herself onto inanimate objects (stuffed toy bears in her case), came to learn more about herself, rediscover her creativity, and play her way out of depression. She shared about her work with Bearapy, and the goals she has for helping corporations take care of employees’ mental health, and also her personal mission in life to raise awareness about depression. This is one reason why she is involved in CandleX and helps with any events she can. Enoch also talked about how CandleX came about into being, and the founder, XiaoJie’s, experience and the work she does for the community. The talk ended with some participants sharing their stories and asking questions about how best to take care of themselves. Jing Kids’ owner, Toni Ma, shared her personal journey and also that she had been reading Enoch’s blog for years, and was thus very excited they had finally met! It was an open, authentic, and heartfelt event. Enoch was touched by others’ struggles, and again, affirmed the need for support groups and organizations, such as CandleX, to help make this world to a better place. #Beijing #depression #bipolar #mentalhealth

  • Event Review l Positivity in Challenging Times with French Lab, 16th Aug 2016

    In recent months, we’ve seen a growing effort, from various communities, to address depression in Beijing. One of them is French Lab, an NGO that hosted a panel discussion about mental health. Candlex was honored to be invited to join the panel along with other inspiring community leaders. On 16th Aug 2016, The French Lab hosted an excellent panel discussion as part of their Be Inspired series. The panel was entitled: How to Stay Positive in Challenging Times. This discussion focused on Well-Being in business, and as a business, and allowed three important female entrepreneurs to share their ideas and advice with a captive audience. This event was graciously hosted at the recently opened Day Day Up, which is a beautiful shared office space in the heart of Sanlitun SoHo The panelists for the evening included: CandleX’s founder, Xiaojie Qin; Beijing’s premier Tribal Belly Dance instructor, Inko di O, and Dalida Turkovic, founder of the Beijing Mindfulness Center. Helena, from The French Lab, was the moderator. Instead of talking about successes in entrepreneurship, the centering topic was on challenges that each of these speakers encountered in life, and how they handled them. French Lab published an article illustrating the common mental disorders entrepreneurs face, which are anxiety and depression. Surprisingly the ratio among entrepreneurs is higher than the general public. That leads to the interesting topic: how can you take the role of leading when mental health is a prominent issue? Xiaojie spoke first, and explained CandleX’s important mission of providing support to those in the international community affected by anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and depression. She also told the group some her own story, including how she came to found CandleX to raise awareness about depression and increase psychosocial support. Since its founding, a little over a year ago, CandleX has been able to provide many people in the international community with information about mental illness, thus helping to remove stigma. CandleX offers regular workshops, support groups, and seminars on coping with and surviving mental illness. Inko took the floor next to discuss how her passion for authentic movement brought her from a seemingly perfect life in Paris, to a slightly less stable, but more meaningful life, as an entrepreneur in Beijing. She shared a documentary clip with the group that showcased her beautiful and soulful dancing, and also her very clear ability to create a community surrounding her art. She discussed some of the challenges of entrepreneurships, but also the reasons she feels the benefits are so worth the struggles that she couldn’t image another way of life. The last panelist to speak was Dalida. She spoke of her entrepreneurial journey, and the bravery it took to start her own business. She realized that, as Xiaojie and Inko had both made clear, there was a real need for more Mindful thought and connection in the often-stressed expat community. Dalida shared some mindfulness techniques with the group, and went on to practice a mindful breathing exercise with everyone. When all three women had shared their journeys, the floor was opened for questions and discussions. The French Lab’s moderator asked some very through provoking questions, allowing the attendees to really see inside the entrepreneurial process, as well as offering insights on how to keep well being as a priority throughout. As the questions wrapped up, the guests were then invited to mingle with the panelists while enjoying the catering from the sponsors. Over all, it was a very informative evening, and good exposure to the idea of mindfulness in business. #depression #mentalhealth #Beijing #China

  • Lesson 4.1: The Art of Telling. To Tell or Not To Tell

    The provision of mental health care for expats in China is not adequate. In the capital alone, there are over 200,000 (Xinhua Net, 2012) expats. Many are facing the constraints of a limited number of qualified, English speaking psychologists in Beijing. Mental illness in China is heavily stigmatized, and people’s ignorance of depression prevents the majority of Chinese nationals from seeking help. One of the great fears for those living with mental illness is that in revealing their struggles to others, even close family and friends, it will result in incomprehension at best and severe judgment and social derision at worst. To open up to someone near to you and then be judged as weak, melodramatic, crazy or even worse is certainly a terrifying proposition. But what is so easily forgotten is that discovering the compassion of others is how we truly know friendship, and how we discover who our true family are, both in blood and heart. This fear may also hold us back from an even more amazing experience: the opportunity to show compassion to others. Welcome back to CandleX Classroom! In this session, we’ll discuss the important topic of self-care by answering some frequently asked questions: “Should I tell others that I have depression?”, “And if so, who, when, what and how?” These are common questions people ask themselves during periods of depression. They know they need help but may have concerns about asking for it. Some common concerns people have are as follows: Will my friends think I am weak? Am I going to lose my job if tell them? But if I don’t, I am not really performing anyway… Is this going to make my parents or partner worry about me? This is our advice; if you have depression, please do tell others. It’s the first step in seeking help. Be aware that not everyone will understand, or know how to respond to that. But some will, and they’ll be your life pillars through the episodes. Level of Depression is the Primary Factor for Consideration There are different levels of depression: mild, moderate and major depression (for more details on the symptoms, please refer to Lesson 2. Regardless of what level you are at, the purpose of telling others should always be helping yourself. Everyone has a different personality, environment and coping mechanisms. And so there isn’t a general yes or no in terms of deciding whether to tell, whom to tell, what to tell and how to tell. Those questions need to be answered by you. You can do it in whichever way feels the most suitable for you. The main question to ask yourself is. “Will the help me to cope with my depression better?” This is the primary principle and is more important that concerns over saving face. ACTION: Yep, it’s now time to write this question on a sticker and put it on the bedroom wall! Here are some general guidelines. Remember that you can accept or reject or adapt these guidelines to whatever is easiest for you. For mild-moderate depression: telling others is not as important as following the doctor’s advice: good night sleep, exercise, nutrition, and mental health counseling, etc. If you can manage to get these done, you are on the way to recovering on your own. Telling is only very much needed if you think you need external supervision/support to get you on a healing track. Focus your energy on getting things on track in life, instead of being stuck with the dilemma of telling or not. For severe depression: you have to tell others! One symptom of unavoidable symptom is repetitive suicidal thoughts, this is life-threatening. On top of that, severe depression comes with severe cognitive impairment. It has a substantial negative impact on your social life, intimate relationships, work performance and even daily routine functions like getting out of bed or taking a shower. By that, we mean, you need external help to get you through it because you’ve lost the basic functions temporally. There shouldn’t be any shame in this. Just like any other organ in our body, our brain does get sick, it’s just invisible and less understood by our society. (Go to CandleX Classroom Depression Essentials Series: Lesson 3 Causes of Depression to understand why it happens). So when we are sick, we tell people that need to know so your boss will allow you to take sick leave, and your loved ones will bring your chicken soup, for the soul. Marco, CandleX’s Representative, shared his story of opening up in the hopes of encouraging you to take this step too. 3 years ago, having suffered a severe breakdown, I responded by opening up to my family and friends, of whom there were many, purely as a matter of survival. If those around me were not aware of what was happening to me during a severe episode, they would have no way to help, and if they weren’t there to help, I might not make it the next time. The effects were lasting. I quite quickly had a support group that I could rely on as my faith in them had not been misplaced. What’s more, my openness led others to reveal to me that they had similar struggles that they had always been too afraid to share, and it was my honesty and lack of humiliation that allowed them to speak up as well. They knew that I had some sense of what they were going through; I would not be one to judge. And I began to see myself as one among a group of people that formed a special sort of club, one in which we shared a language of adversity that only we could truly understand, but to which those who were willing could also listen to. In receiving empathy and compassion I found courage, and in giving it, I found meaning. For it is in the light that we can enjoy the company of others, but only in the darkness that we find true friendship. For Marco’s full story, you can find it in CandleX column: Marco’s Story with Depression. Do not forget, our peer support group for people with depression in Beijing is a safe and confidential space for you to start the conversation. Take baby steps. We are here to hold your hand.

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