In an extraordinary gathering of influential individuals from diverse backgrounds, the Fight for Mental Health initiative, led by founder Egypt Brown, brought together athletes, entrepreneurs, actors, politicians, and medical professionals to address the critical issues of mental health and their commitment to world peace.
The virtual summit began with Brown acknowledging the crucial support and partnership of the World Boxing Council (WBC), with world champions potentially receiving “green belts” in the future for their commitment to mental health. Mauricio Sulaiman, WBC President, was commended for his “unwavering support, encouragement, and dedication to finding solutions”.
Egypt Brown, boxing promoter and government advisor, stated, “We gather here to actively contribute to the restoration of mental health and the pursuit of world peace. We refuse to passively await a violent future or falter in the face of destruction. Instead, we commit to fighting for mental health and global peace.”
Renowned actress and movie producer Heidi Jo Markel showcased her commitment to social and environmental causes. Beyond her Hollywood success, Markel actively works with “Stop Poaching Now” to protect the
planet’s animals and empower children to become guardians of the ecosystem.
During the address, Markel says, “It’s not just about Hollywood for me; it’s about making a difference in the world.Together, we can create harmony on our planet.” She highlighted the intersection of mental health, environmentalism, and world peace.
Lebanese-born entrepreneur and soccer club owner Harry Tachian spoke about the mental health struggles athletes face and the initiatives he supports to address these challenges. As the current owner of Los Angeles FC (MLS), Tachian emphasised the need for increased awareness and collaboration in the pursuit of global mental well-being.
“More than ever, I’ve witnessed mental health struggles among players. Today, with increased awareness and solutions, I’m actively involved in various initiatives to support mental health.”
Former professional boxing champion and Hall of Famer Kelly Pavlik shared his efforts in tearing down the stigma around mental health. “On the topic of mental health, it’s something I’m deeply involved in. I believe it’s essential to get kids off the streets, providing them with a few hours daily to connect, talk about their struggles, and realise they are not alone.”
Pavlik’s charitable programmes focus on providing support, counselling, and mentorship to children, emphasising the importance of addressing mental health challenges early on.
RJ Mahdi, CEO of the Made in Africa Project, highlighted the universal existence of mental health issues and the need for collective efforts to address them. Mahdi emphasised the importance of treating each other with respect, regardless of differences, as a foundation for global progress. “For those with large platforms, high visibility, and legendary status, there’s a responsibility to amplify the needs of the people, not just as voices but as catalysts for action.”
Two-time World Boxing Champion, “Bang Bang” Lulu Hawton, brought attention to the role of women in fostering world peace. Drawing from her own experiences, Hawton highlighted the importance of self-love, resilience, and a positive mindset in shaping the next generation of leaders.
“Communication is paramount, both within ourselves and with others. It starts with how we talk to ourselves, influencing our thoughts and actions. By minimising internal conflict, trauma, and carnage, we can mitigate external projections of violence.” She urged a collective shift from aggression to compassion for lasting harmony.
Gloria Giorno, author of “Outcast,” and her son, Stevie Giorno, emphasised the mental health challenges faced by Gen Z, especially in educational settings. Gloria believes, “Mental health is stigmatised in our country, and we need to treat it like any other illness.”
They advocated for increased religious engagement and mentorship programmes to support young people’s mental well-being. Stevie, Tennessee Young Republican Chair, described his experience and stated, “We need to come together as a nation and work towards a healthier and more supportive environment.”
Dr Michelle Thompson, a medical doctor, reinforced the connection between mental and physical well-being. Dr. Thompson underscored the importance of early childhood experiences in shaping mental health and she advocates for a holistic approach that considers lifestyle factors in promoting mental wellness.
“Mental health and physical lifestyle are intertwined; what we eat, sleep patterns, relationship quality, and physical activity all contribute to mental well-being. Acknowledging the connection between mental and physical health is crucial for individual, community, economic, and global well-being.”
Congressional candidates Carla Spalding and Darius Mayfield shared their experiences addressing mental health challenges in their communities. Spalding shared, “It’s heartbreaking, but crucial. Loneliness, social isolation, poverty, and trauma are significant issues affecting our youth’s mental health. We must find the underlying causes and not just prescribe medications as a “band-aid solution”.
Spalding emphasised the need for comprehensive solutions beyond medication, while Mayfield called for the involvement of influential figures and community-driven initiatives. “Over the past decade, one significant issue contributing to mental health challenges has been the loss and defunding of organisations dealing with mental health. Legislation alone isn’t enough; we need influential figures to amplify the message.”
Former professional baseball player turned entrepreneur, Jay Nolan, shared his compelling journey of overcoming childhood trauma and the importance of addressing mental health head-on. Nolan emphasised ten key points, underscoring the global impact of mental health on overall well-being, social dynamics, and economic prosperity. He says, “I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to tackle mental health issues head-on.”
Dr Josh Himes, a retired pro fighter and doctor of natural health, closed the summit by highlighting the connection between mental health and gut health. Dr. Himes urged a proactive approach to mental wellness, encouraging advanced testing and personalised solutions to address root causes. “As a retired pro fighter, every patient is a fight for me, aiming for a victory in their well-being. Let’s identify the problem’s root through advanced testing, not just prescribe pills.”
”The Conversation” showcased the power of collaboration and advocacy in addressing the multifaceted challenges of mental well-being. The speakers’ diverse backgrounds and experiences underscored the need for a holistic and inclusive approach to achieve lasting change on a global scale. The summit serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring individuals and communities to prioritise mental health for a more peaceful and harmonious world.
Former heavyweight champion boxer Joe “The Juggernaut” Joyce was a part of the virtual summit, along with upcoming German pro boxer Ilyas Can Kali and Jack Willis. The list included former NFL talents Julius Williams, Anthony Smith, Kimberly Brown (Daughter of Legends), daughter of NFL legend Jim Brown, and the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.