On today’s episode, we are joined by Dr. Nghi Dang – an innovative Mental Health Doctor in Fullerton, California. Born in Vietnam, he moved to the USA when he was 6. His parents are still together. We discuss Asian culture and differences with American culture and the importance of family in Asian culture. Nghi shares his beliefs as a Buddhist and the value of letting go of all humanly needs. He shares early memories with family in Vietnam. He is the youngest of his siblings and has 2 brothers and a sister. When he first came to the US, he was surprised by how differently children interacted with teachers than what he was used to in his culture.
Nghi recounts how he learned English and went from being the best in class to the worst in class. He struggled with isolation and indifference due to not knowing the language. This led to being in a lot of fights at school and having to relocate. But he dedicated himself to the process and learned the language and cultural norms. Through this process, he adapted and overcame his challenges. He recalls when his parents decided to move to a more Asian community in Orange County.
He discovered he wanted to work in healthcare to help others. He graduated medical school in 2012 and recalls the relief of completing his education. Completing his residency was the proudest moment in the process, as well as the most challenging. During his first patient experience, he recalls the regret of losing his first patient (beyond his control).
Todd and Nghi talk mental health and how far we have come to treat various ailments. We discuss ADHD, potential causes and how it feels to have this condition (Todd). Todd shares how he was fed caffeine as a baby to mitigate his ADHD symptoms. Nghi shares how to recognize the differences between normal stress and potentially a mental health condition. Todd discusses how he struggled with energy management issues and how he came to discover Lexapro as a helpful medication for him. He found the medication very helpful to reduce anxiety and erroneous stress.
Todd asks what its like for a child to struggle with mental illness, and not even knowing it. Nghi wrote a book series to highlight, address, and provide hope for overcoming mental health issues. We discuss how parents can recognize issues from school age on and seek professional help. Todd jokes that mental health is almost like a sport in America, and Nghi discusses how life changes through successful treatment of mental illness. We discuss how right vs wrong is an underlying characteristic of behavior and how adults can struggle with un-diagnosed mental illness.
As a mental health doctor, Nghi wrote a book series that addresses children’s mental health issues after his nephew committed suicide. He was moved to help educate and open up a dialogue with children and parents about mental health. His nephew struggled with depression which led to an unfortunate hopelessness and eventual termination of his own life. Nghi hopes to raise awareness and prevent this despair in others, especially children. Each of his books deals with relevant issues facing children today that he has learned about through actual patient treatment. We wrap up discussing how his parents feel about his success in life and Nghi shares advice for those struggling with mental health issues. Todd talks about balance in life.