Sophia Ng is using her platform as Miss Global to “remove the stigma that exists around mental health.”
A counselor-turned-beauty queen is on a mission to de-stigmatize mental health in the Asian community, which has long considered it a taboo subject.
Last August, Sophia Ng, 27, won her first pageant and was crowned Miss Asian America. The Vancouver-born, Hong Kong-raised therapist who had zero experience in pageantry was encouraged to enter the competition to further her mission.
Ng is using her platform to break the taboo of speaking about mental health.
“I was once in a suicide depression, and in my hour of darkness, I believed I was worthless and that life was not worth living,” she said during the Miss Asian America competition.
In February, Ng was crowned Miss Global in her second-ever pageant, and stepped down as Miss Asian America.
The beauty queen is drawing from her own experience with depression to spread her message that it’s “okay not to be okay.”
“My passion is removing the stigma that exists around mental health,” she said at a recent banquet sponsored by the Chinese Association of Herculese, speaking in both Cantonese and English. “And I’m currently doing that by doing a lot of speaking engagements, especially with college students, educating them about this.”
Growing up, Ng played dreamed of playing volleyball professionally, according to her profile provided by Miss Global. But at 16, she tore her ACL and MCL during a basketball tournament and had to have left-knee reconstructive surgery. The psychological toll of the long recovery time and feeling incapacitated, Ng said she became depressed. She isolated herself.
“While I was still… recovering physically, my mind definitely began to sort of spiral downwards,” she told KQED.
After a suicide attempt with sleeping pills, Ng saw a therapist who was able to give her a positive outlet to examine her issues. This experience inspired her to pursue a career in psychology.
As a Chinese woman, Ng is able to understand the Asian community’s general apprehension to discussing mental health.
Until recently, she counseled students in San Francisco schools, but left her job to move back to Hong Kong to be closer to family.
Eventually, Ng would like to open her own therapy practice and help schools and companies support mental health.