Never Alone Summit: The emergence of a new mental health paradigm

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VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA - APRIL 27: Deepak Chopra speaks onstage at SOMETHING IN THE WATER - Day 2 on April 27, 2019 in Virginia Beach City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Something in the Water)
Deepak Chopra says the past year of the pandemic has exacted deep emotional costs in the form of social isolation, anxiety, grief and fear of the unknown. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Something in the Water)

No crisis in recent memory has shown us the urgent need for a new approach to mental health like the COVID pandemic. The post-pandemic future can be a transformation of humanity on a global scale. A new paradigm of mental health offers the possibility of an awakening of the human family.

The past year of the pandemic has exacted deep emotional costs in the form of social isolation, anxiety, grief and fear of the unknown. It’s been tough for parents and children, for frontline workers and teachers, for each of us. Yet this very experience may turn out to be the opportunity we so often find in crisis – the emergence of a new mental health culture.

People are talking more openly about their feelings. Empathy has emerged out of distress because no one has been immune from feeling anxious, depressed and vulnerable. We know without a shadow of a doubt that we need each other. Self-care is expanding to embrace everyone.

If the pandemic offers a silver lining, it is this.

An initiative known as Never Alone has been focused on using love in action to help the suicidal and mentally distressed around the world. As an alliance, Never Alone is growing with unparalleled speed. Millions of people have made direct contact digitally with someone they can talk to, needing nothing more than a smartphone or computer.

It has been proven clinically that in a state of potential suicide, the best prevention is to talk to someone immediately. Human contact assures you that you are not alone. Empathy gives you a sense of presence from the heart. Nothing is more effective, because at the root of potential suicide are the feelings of loneliness, being isolated, and believing no one understands you.

Now there’s an opportunity to reimagine our concept of mental health so that "never alone" is something that belongs to everyone.

The second Never Alone Global Mental Health Summit on May 21. It celebrates the emergence of a new mental health culture through a host of themes:

• Mental space is a place where we all share a home.

• At our core each of us is connected on the basis of the highest values of consciousness: love, compassion, empathy, kindness, and inner growth.

• The best future will be one where consciousness creates deeper and deeper human bonds. • Love in action is the greatest healer.

The first Never Alone Summit emerged during the lockdown of 2020, and now we can examine what has been learned. The single most important realization is that emotional health and mental well-being are just as important as physical health.

With this in mind, we can seize this time to banish the stigma associated with psychological distress. The first step is to accept that reality "in here" is a shared reality: We have all experienced the shadow side of the mind and its fear, anger, shame, and loss. Being emotionally honest with yourself, you immediately can see the need to invest in mental health as an expression of "never alone."

Something new occurs when people come together in deeper listening. Creating this new mental health culture obeys what our hearts want. Our mental space becomes a home when light is brought to drive away the shadows. Love in action accomplishes this once we witness its healing touch.

To that end, the Never Alone Summit is bringing together speakers with different stories and points of view: Health and holistic wellness experts, brain and behavioral scientists as well as spiritual leaders. We will explore new mind-body approaches and deepen our understanding of traditional practices to connect to our own sources of inner strength, find the capacity to build resilience and support, and be of service to each other. To expand the heart value of love in action, there will be storytellers drawn from artists, actors, musicians, and athletes. The most inspiring will be people with their own extraordinary stories of recovery and healing. A critical new feature will be Spotlight India, a three-hour live stream of speakers from South Asia.

Let’s reimagine, rewrite and embody through Love in Action how we think about mental health, how we talk about it and how we treat it in our lives, our families and society everywhere.

This is a collaboration between The Chopra Foundation, the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation and CG Creative Studios. Register here to watch the entire program live or on-demand, free.

Cassandra Vieten, Gabriella Wright and Poonacha Machaiah contributed to this story

CASSANDRA VIETEN is executive director of the John W. Brick Foundation, director of research at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at the University of California, San Diego, and a senior fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, where she served as president from 2013-2019. She is a clinical psychologist, mind-body medicine researcher, author of three books, and an international public speaker and workshop leader. She co-hosts the Never Alone Summit along with Gabriella Wright and Poonacha Machaiah.

GABRIELLA WRIGHT is a mother, professional actress, activist and motivational speaker with a long-standing humanitarian engagement. A co-founder of the Never Alone Movement for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health. She is a teacher of primordial sound meditation for Chopra Global and the Chopra Foundation. Wright has lent her voice to U.N. Women and the U.N. Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Among many other societal contributions, she is a Global Goodwill Ambassador to SkyPower and the honorary president of a grassroots charity in Myanmar. She co-hosts the Never Alone Summit along with Cassandra Vieten and Poonacha Machaiah.

POONACHA MACHAIAH is a global leader among a new breed of social entrepreneurs, applying his corporate expertise from 25 years as a business executive in multiple Fortune 100 companies and entrepreneurial initiatives to addressing societal and wellbeing challenges. Poonacha is the CEO of The Chopra Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving health and well-being, cultivating spiritual knowledge, expanding consciousness, and promoting world peace. He is the co-founder of the Never Alone Movement for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health and was the co-founder of JIYO wellbeing platform along with Deepak Chopra, MD. Poonacha has launched the Warrior Monk brand targeted at creating a positive societal shift through the compassionate transformation of humankind. Poonacha is the founder of Wellbeing Tech, a leading technology innovation company that has deployed transformative wellbeing solutions such as the hyper-local neighborhood app GABL and remote assistance management platform for providing assisted reality with Glass Enterprise edition and C.I.R.C.A for anxiety and stress management. He holds an MBA from the College of William and Mary, and a bachelor of science in computer science and engineering from the B.M.S. College of Engineering.

DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a nonprofit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 89 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his next book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. Time magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

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