An advocate’s story: “There is no shame”

By Emily Wu Truong

In July 2013 at a legislative briefing on Asian American mental health, I stated, “I will not  end my life because I have a story to share. The more we talk about mental health, the more we will alleviate the stigma. There is no shame.” That marked the beginning of my grassroots advocacy to be the change I want to see in the world, stand against stigma and let others know that they are not alone in their struggles.


As a suicide prevention advocate, I believe mental health is often portrayed in a negative light. Those who don’t have in-depth understanding of mental health and illness commonly make negative generalizations and stereotypes about individuals with mental illness.

However, I believe that mental health is not  just about what’s wrong with you. It’s also about what’s right  with you! Whether a person is diagnosed with a mental illness or not, each of us has strengths and weaknesses. Our strengths make us feel good about ourselves – our weaknesses don’t. However, when we’re ready to face our weaknesses, they are stepping stones to help us grow into the person we were meant to become!

mlewu1For me, my breakdowns served as an awakening. I realized that I believed in lies I told myself for too long. Since then, I’ve transformed into being my own best friend. I have changed my story of depression to one of self-acceptance to inspire others to also recognize the infinite value of their own lives and find meaning in life struggles.

At the end of the day, taking care of our mental health is really about prioritizing our self-care because if we can’t help ourselves, how can we truly help others? When we are caring for others, learning to examine ourselves and be a role model makes a huge difference.

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mlewu3Emily Wu Truong is an emerging leader for mental health awareness, known as the “Lady in Green.” She is a motivational speaker and mental health advocate, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology & Social Behavior from UC Irvine. As an outspoken advocate, Emily serves on the board of NAMI San Gabriel Valley and on the Client & Family Leadership Committee for the Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) in Sacramento. She has been invited to speak at USC, UCLA, UC Irvine, Raytheon, International Bipolar Foundation, New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), Epoch Times, and more. She is best known for her speeches “Believing in Me: My Journey to Finding My Self-Worth” and “Breaking Down the Walls of Perfectionism.” In recognition of Women’s History Month in March 2015, she received the 2015 Woman of Achievement Award from Senator Ed Hernandez for her advocacy and mental health awareness efforts.