Creative Director Sadie Kaye started out as a children’s TV presenter on TVB in Hong Kong and ITV in London. She produced & presented documentaries and appeared as a writer-performer in sketch shows. In 2012 she played Miss Adventure in an improvised skit on Funny or Die, before returning to Hong Kong and presenting slots as the clueless character on RTHK Radio 3.
Sadie was diagnosed with bipolar in 2011. In 2015 she produced and presented an irreverent radio documentary about her condition for RTHK. Bipolar Express was Highly Commended (Creative Feature) by the Association for International Broadcasting. In 2019 she presented another doc for RTHK Radio 3 about OCD and in 2020 she started hosting the Mental Ideas Podcast on RTHK, tackling the serious subject of mental health in a lighthearted way. The series was shortlisted by the Association for International Broadcasting for a 2020 Factual Podcast award. The same year she co-produced a narrative feature film Transference with Contro Vento Films that went viral on YouTube.
In 2020 she started performing a humour column Sharp Pains on RTHK Radio 3 that was shortlisted for Best Comedy by the 2022 New York Festivals Radio Awards, an Official Select of the 2022 On Air Fest and nominated for ‘Moment of Comedy Gold‘ by the International Women’s Podcast Awards in 2022 and 2023. She’s written humour and about mental health for the SCMP and China Daily and contributed short stories and poetry to various anthologies. She attempted a children’s book The Wishing Machine in 2014 and is attempting another she hopes will be better.
She founded support group Bipolar Hong Kong in 2014 and has been an ambassador for Mind HK since 2021. She lives in a mound of bread that she calls Home Kong Kitchen.
Contact Sadie: email@example.com
Ambassador Philippe Joly is a French actor, screenwriter, filmmaker and entrepreneur. Born in Moscow, Russia, for the past seven years Philippe has made Hong Kong his home. Besides his native French, Philippe is fluent in Italian, Russian, Spanish, English, and the filthiest parts of Cantonese and Mandarin. He is best known as an actor for his roles as ‘Zoltan’ in the 2015 film Pound of Flesh with Jean-Claude Van Damme and ‘Decimus’ in Jackie Chan’s Dragon Blade.
Philippe is regularly cast as the villain in action films in Asia. His speciality is dying on screen in hundreds of inventive ways. He appeared alongside Chow Yun Fat as a foreign gangster in From Vegas to Macau, and Andy Lau, whom he’s faced twice, first as a killer disguised as a maid in the film Mission Milano, and then as Chief Commissioner in Chasing The Dragon. Recent projects include Juno Mak‘s Sons of The Neon Night (風林火山), and the Chinese sci-fi action film Ultimate Code (终极代码), in which he plays a lead role as the antagonist alongside a Chinese cast and David Belle.
Since 2018, Philippe’s been recording comedy sketches for RTHK with Sadie Kaye. The pair are also working together, playing Mr. & Mrs. Sharpe-Payne, on a comedy podcast, Meet The New Parents.
An entrepreneur whose expertise and passion for mobile technologies gets him regularly solicited for consultancy work, Philippe has been involved in many projects in the digital space, including developing and launching mobile apps, web portals & social networks. In 2011 he won the Mobile Messaging Award for his venture SafeBox.mobi. He’s the author of best-selling non-fiction business book Potemkin, Inc, and is currently writing a second book, 100 Ways To Die.
As well as being an ambassador for Mental Ideas, Philippe has made an invaluable contribution to the platform’s design and marketing.
Contact Philippe: firstname.lastname@example.org
Philippe on IMDb
Ambassador Mat Ricardo is one of the most unique, critically-acclaimed & entertaining variety performers in the world. The first man in history to learn to put the tablecloth back ON the table… and that‘s just one of his incredible feats!
The gentleman juggler and showman is a TEDX speaker, the winner of the Herald Angel Award for Theatre Excellence, winner of the British Cabaret Award for ‘Best Speciality Act’, the Kleinkunst Cabaret Prize, the Arts Award, Stagetalk Magazine’s ‘Show of the Year’, and the Edinburgh Festival’s Pick of the Fringe.
“MAT RICARDO IS AMAZING!” – HRH PRINCE CHARLES
Mat’s also an experienced presenter and on-stage interviewer, having conducted live interviews for the BBC with some of the biggest stars of comedy, including Eddie Izzard, at the National Theatre, the Edinburgh Festival, and on several West End stages.
“DAZZLING SHOWMANSHIP, SPOT-ON COMIC TIMING AND BUCKETLOADS OF STYLE. RELENTLESS, HILARIOUS, JAW-DROPPING FUN!” – ER MAGAZINE
He’s a columnist for Chortle and has recently been turning his relentless creativity to penning books.
Mat’s spoken and written freely about his struggles with mental health, including depression, mood swings (touching on bipolar disorder), OCD and anxiety. He’s a regular columnist for Mental Ideas and a guest in creative director Sadie Kaye‘s RTHK documentary As Bad As It Gets.
Mat will MC our inaugural Mental Ideas Awards in Hong Kong. He was also a recurring guest in 3 episodes of series 1 of our Mental Ideas Podcast, a collaboration between Mental Ideas and RTHK.
Charles Tang is a Canadian-born ethnically Chinese artist. Raised in Hong Kong, he studied at a local public school and an international school (Island School in Hong Kong). His father is an amateur Chinese Ink Artist. Growing up in Hong Kong, Charles was heavily influenced from a young age by Chinese Traditional ‘Flora & Birds’ ink paintings. After gaining his IB, Charles enrolled in Medical School in Ireland and studied at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). He discovered that even though medicine addresses troubles in human pathology, it’s a science that is strict and rigid. On the other hand, he finds the creative endeavour of making art therapeutic and believes it’s a powerful instrument bringing awareness of personal and societal problems. To rekindle his passion and practice of art, he first enrolled in SCAD, then Hong Kong Art School. He is currently in his final year at the art school (Year 3 Painting). Mental Ideas is thrilled Charles has accepted our invite to be an ambassador and we look forward to working with him on future art projects and exhibitions.
Charles Tang 鄧煒昌
Ambassador Charles Tang is a Canadian-born ethnically Chinese artist. Raised in Hong Kong, he studied at a local public school and an international school (Island School in Hong Kong). His father is a Chinese Ink Artist and Charles inherited a passion and talent for the medium. Growing up in Hong Kong, Charles was heavily influenced from a young age by Chinese Traditional ‘Flora & Birds’ ink paintings. After gaining his IB, Charles enrolled in Medical School in Ireland and studied at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). He discovered that even though medicine addresses troubles in human pathology, it’s a science that is strict and rigid. On the other hand, he finds the creative endeavour of making art therapeutic and believes it’s a powerful instrument bringing awareness of personal and societal problems. To rekindle his passion and practice of art, he first enrolled in SCAD, then Hong Kong Art School. He is currently in his final year at the art school (Year 3 Painting).
Charles works with different water-based mediums to examine the beauty and suffering of the human condition. He feels that the concept of an artist should be fluid and the outcome of the piece should reflect the experience of the painter. Outside of traditional ink and watercolour, the artist continues to strive for new methods of paint application. Through the abstract visual representation of scenes and emotions, the painter wants his audience to capture the essence of the stillness. In his future works, he seeks to challenge boundaries and provide a future direction toward art and its function in society.
Mental Ideas is thrilled Charles has accepted our invite to be an ambassador and we look forward to working with him on art projects and exhibitions.
Featured Artist Eugenia Kim is a PhD student, originally from the USA. She’s been living in Hong Kong and studying at City University since 2015. She creates dance narratives for virtual reality environments inspired by her own experiences of living with adolescent bipolar disorder.
Her hope is that her dances help viewers understand on a physical level what it’s like to have bipolar disorder. She also hopes her VR dances encourage families to support young people in getting treatment. Eugenia has been making dances about bipolar disorder since 2005 as a release from her condition. She’s also been delving into dance cinema with a focus on using movement to express mental health-related narratives.
Her research and dances are aimed at helping others, like her, who prefer the digital realm, have a hard time going outside alone or expressing their emotional states verbally. She also creates dances for the families and friends of adolescent bipolar patients, who might be worried about being seen attending any activity or public event related to mental health.
Eugenia’s VR dance Lithium Hindsight is a work-in-progress. She is keen to reach out to others who have the condition and are interested in her work. Her academic research for her PhD explores: How can phenomenology can be applied to create dance pathographies for virtual reality environments about adolescent bipolar disorder?
Eugenia was a brilliant guest on series 1 of our Mental Ideas Podcast.
Ambassador Raffaello DeGruttola (‘Raff’) is an English-Italian actor and director from London. After playing Private Goldman in Steven Spielberg‘s Saving Private Ryan, Raff worked as a character actor in American films shot in Europe. His notable acting credits include supporting roles in Rush, In Love and War, Wit, Quantum of Solace and Unlocked, while notable directors he’s worked with include Richard Attenborough and Mike Nichols. In 2019 he’ll appear opposite Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway in Dirty Rotten Scoundrelsremake The Hustle.
Raff’s parents moved from Ariano Irpino, Italy, to London in 1970. When Raff was eight, the family moved to Queens, New York for several years, before returning to London. After attending some local acting classes, Raff was encouraged to audition for a place at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. This he successfully did and attended from the ages of 13-16, before continuing his acting training at the Lee Strasberg Institute. In 2003 Raff married Simone Lahbib. Their daughter, Skye, was born in 2005. Both are actresses.
In 2010 Raff wrote and directed his first 30-min short, The Other Side Of My Sleep. The film headlined the Boston Film Festival and inspired by its success, Raff immediately began shooting his first feature film, FLIM The Movie, a comedy constructed around improvisation. As well as directing, Raff played the lead, Ravi, a delusional filmmaker hoping to make the leap from Bollywood to Hollywood. FLIM premiered at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival and was nominated for the Raindance Award at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards. In 2015 the film made the official selection at the New York Independent Film Festival.
In 2017, Raff directed and played a sex trafficker in No Way Home – Stop The Traffick, a powerful short film to raise awareness of the victims of human trafficking. The film won the award for ‘Expose’ from the United Nations in conjunction with CNN and World Freedom Day.
He is currently working with Mental Ideas on a series of short films depicting mental health conditions in an art-house style, blending contemporary dance, music and poetry with an acting narrative. The first of these short films inspired a collaboration between Contro Vento Films and Mental Ideas co-producing Transference: A Bipolar Love Story (2020) as a feature-length film.
Raff’s been affected by mental illness throughout his life. Raff’s father had bipolar disorder and he is drawn to playing sympathetic delusional characters with a manic edge. Raff’s films are sure to be highlights of our inaugural Film Festival and we are so excited to have him on board as an ambassador.
Raff on IMDb
Contro Vento Films
Partner and ambassador James Daly is co-founder and CEO of Clever Films, a film company based in the UK. A shrewd financial director with a creative soul, James intricately understands both sides of the film industry. Unlike other production companies, James’ focus is on fully financing film and media projects in-house and drawing on his long-term relationships with distributors.
The company is growing fast by developing and producing exciting films and TV shows that viewers connect with easily and love to watch. Away from the financial and distribution side, James is also a critically acclaimed writer and producer. As well as working with big established names, James believes that discovering and championing young talent is paramount to ensuring his company’s success.
James’ passion and commitment to social responsibility is something he’s incredibly proud of and has placed at the heart of all his company’s endeavors. In doing so, he’s created a powerful platform to raise marginalized voices, exploring and assisting global causes which benefit from his support and opportunities each year. As an ambassador, James intends to work closely with Mental Ideas on all aspects of film & media production and distribution, offering his expertise and creating empowering opportunities for our global creative community to engage with the widest audience.
Ambassador Charlotte Farhan is a force of nature. She’s co-founder and managing director of non-profit Art Saves Lives International (ASLI) and works as an artist, illustrator, writer and activist.
Charlotte campaigns against inequality, stigma, rape culture, capitalism and war. Her Facebook post about why she would not be changing her profile picture to an overlay of the Tricolor in the wake of the Paris Attacks, even though she is French and from Paris, went viral, receiving international media attention from the New York Times, Telegraph, Independent & Le Huffington. She’s written articles for CNBC, Open Minds Quarterly (as a Resident Artist) and as editor of ASLI Magazine.
Charlotte lives with her husband, Mohammed, in Portsmouth, UK, along with their four cats and two dogs. She has BA degrees in Fine Art, Creative Writing, Philosophy and Psychological Sciences, the latter she recently passed with a First!
Charlotte speaks out about her ongoing struggles with mental illness to fight stigma and show others that mental illness is just like any physical illness and should be treated in exactly the same way. She’s affected by a number of conflicting psychiatric conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder, Agoraphobia, PTSD and OCD.
Charlotte and creative director Sadie Kaye co-founded ASLI together and collaborated as writer-illustrator on The Wishing Machine. Charlotte was an amazing guest in our documentary As Bad As It Gets, which aired on RTHK Radio 3 July 13, 2019.
Ambassador Dan Davies is an American actor. Dan started in radio hosting his own show The Swami from 1998-2001. He went on to host TV shows Just For The Health Of It and Now We’re Cooking. In 2005, Dan won the Platinum Remi award for Best Comedy at the 38th Annual Houston International Film Festival (WorldFest).
In 2010 Dan wrote, co-produced and played the title character in Ed Gein, The Musical, a micro-budget horror/musical/comedy, which premiered nationally on PBS‘ Director’s Cut. This opened the door for Dan to co-write the screenplay and star in the western film West of Thunder (2012). The film won the Political Film Society‘s Best Film (Peace) and Best Film (Human Rights) awards: the first film in the Society’s history to win both categories. The film was also awarded the Audience Award at the 2013 Almeria Western Film Festival in Spain.
In 2012 Dan appeared with Sadie Kaye in Miss Adventure meets Motorhead on Funny or Die and in Raffaello Degruttola‘s British comedy film Flim, the Movie. The latter premiered in London during the Raindance Film Festival and was nominated for the Raindance Award at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards (BIFA).
Dan’s next movie, Tempting Fate (2015), was one of the first Hollywood meets Nollywood films of its genre. Dan portrays gang leader Scorpion Dmitrov, co-starring with Nollywood legend Ramsey Nouah. The film is ranked one of the Top 25 Nollywood box office hits of all time. In 2016 Dan co-starred with Ayo Makun, Funke Akindele and Eric Roberts in the Nollywood/Hollywood comedy film A Trip to Jamaica, which became the No. 1 Nollywood box office film of all time. In 2017 Dan won Best Supporting Actor (Comedy) from the African Golden Movie Awards for his hilarious portrayal of Michael Rice. The film was also nominated for Best Comedy at the 2017 African Academy Awards.
Dan wears a toupee. He’ll be writing a column for Mental Ideas as his toupee, chronicling its misadventures as one of the least convincing method actors in Nollywood/Hollywood today. Dan featured as a hilarious and touchingly raw guest in two episodes of our first series of Mental Ideas podcasts. He recently branched out of movies to set up his own indie publishing company, Renegade Press. He’s also returning to the screen in a remake of his micro-budget comedy-horror film, Ed Gein the Musical!
Dan on IMDb
Ambassador Simone Lahbib is a Scottish actress, best known for her portrayal of idealistic Wing Governor Helen Stewart in the ITV drama series Bad Girls. Born in Stirling to a Scottish mother and a French Algerian father, Simone received her acting training at Queen Margaret College, after spending four years training at the Manor School of Ballet in Edinburgh.
Simone commenced her on-screen acting career in 1985 when she was cast in The Girl in the Picture. She soon established a prominent career in television. Following guest appearances on Taggart and Dangerfield, she received her first leading role when she was cast in the ITV soap London Bridge as Mary O’Connor. Her next roles came in the late nineties, when she appeared in the third series of drama Thief Takers and in Channel 4 comedy series The Young Person’s Guide to Becoming a Rock Star.
Simone became widely recognized for her leading role in the cult British prison drama series Bad Girls, establishing a loyal fan base throughout the world, especially among the LGBT community. Following her departure from Bad Girls, Simone appeared in several drama series, including Judge John Deed and Monarch of the Glen. She was again cast in a leading role on the crime drama series Wire in the Blood as D.I. Alex Fielding. Her other notable TV credits include guest appearances in New Tricks and the 2012 Christmas Special of Downton Abbey.
Simone appeared in the films Red Mercury, with Stockard Channing, and the BAFTA-winning Philomena, with Dame Judi Dench. She co-starred in her husband and fellow Mental Ideas Ambassador Raffaello DeGruttola’s 2014 comedy film Film: The Movie, which she also co-produced.
In 2013 Simone opened a performing arts school, 360 Arts, in North London, which teaches singing, dancing and acting to children aged 3-18 years. She married Raff in 2003 and the couple have a daughter, Skye Lucia DeGruttola, also an actress, who was recently seen in the live action Disney movie Beauty & The Beast and in BBC series Grantchester.
In 2010, Simone established the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund in honor of her niece who died of cancer nine days before her 16th birthday. The charity fund benefits kids with cancer and their families. In 2018 she organized a Bad Girls reunion, which helped raise money for the memorial fund.
Simone on Wikipedia
Simone on IMDb
Ambassador Nick Samuel is an award-winning composer and arranger. Born in California, he now lives and works in London. His work spans film, TV, radio and video games and is driven by music’s relationship with the narrative. His between-the-lines approach to storytelling draws influence from across the board of genres. An early-life love of animation and studies in visual art also played a role in Nick’s musical interpretation of how melodies ‘speak’ with an image.
Beginnings in the live arena provided a cornerstone to Nick’s career. As a saxophonist and keyboard player, he worked and played with bands on London’s Jazz scene. A natural transition to composing, as songwriter and band-leader, saw him form the group ‘Hopper’, which went on to receive a finalist accolade for ‘Best Alternative Act’ at the Indy Awards in 2007. In 2009, Nick made the gear-shift to composing, his experience in live music and improvisationheavily influencing the language of his music.
Nick started scoring short films, before working in TV and advertising with clients, including ITV (Text Santa), Tesco Books, Against Breast Cancer (for DCM), Pearl & Dean (receiving the 2013 Music + Sound Award for ‘Best Composition in Cinema Advertising’); and Tesco’s 2017 Christmas TV spot ‘Save The Day’, which he recorded with a 55-piece orchestra at London’s Abbey Road Studios.
He has since scored dozens of feature films, TV shows and multimedia series; working with production companies, studios and directors worldwide. Recent film releases include the acclaimed Max Payne: Retribution and medieval fantasy / horror Knights of The Damned. He is currently arranging and composing a new series (watch this space..!)
Nick composed the soundtrack and will be taking part as a guest in series 2 of our Mental Ideas Podcast, as well as composing the music for several upcoming film, TV & radio projects. That’s music to our ears!
Mental Artist Larry Feign is an award-winning international cartoonist and satirical writer, creator of the ‘Lily Wong’ series of cartoons and books. His work has appeared in L’Hebdo, the Times, the Atlantic, the Economist, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, the Sydney Morning Herald & South China Morning Post. He’s the author-illustrator of 14 bestselling books and has written screenplays and created animation for Disney & theCartoon Network.
Larry began his career as a caricature artist at Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach, later moving to Los Angeles to work for a Hollywood animation studio. In 1985 he visited Hong Kong, intending to stay for two weeks, and ended up staying and making a name for himself as a cartoonist. His Lily Wong daily comic strip was considered a bellwether of life and politics in the territory, and was reprinted widely around the world. His first book, Aieeyaaa!, became the best-selling English-language book in Hong Kong publishing history. In 1997 Larry was commissioned by the Independent to chronicle in cartoons Hong Kong’s final 100 days under British rule. His satirical commentary about the Hong Kong Handover was Time Magazine’s first-ever full-page cartoon essay.
During a two-year hiatus in London, Larry illustrated for various magazines, before returning to Hong Kong to write, produce, and direct animation for television and other media, as well as write for magazines. In 2011 he received a MacDowell Fellowship from America’s oldest artist colony. He is currently working on several books, including both humor and serious historical fiction.
Larry has been married for over three decades to the clinical psychologist Dr. Cathy Tsang-Feign. Together they have two
perfect children, three dogs, and the occasional snake in the garden. In his spare time, Larry enjoys cycling and playing saxophone, though rarely at the same time.
Larry was a superb guest on the first episode of the Mental Ideas Podcast and we look forward to collaborating with him in other weird & wonderful creative ways!
Mental Artist Owen Fitzpatrick is a best-selling author, globetrotting psychologist, trainer and speaker from Dublin, Ireland. Co-founder of the Irish Institute of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), he’s regarded as a leading expert on the power of influence.
Owen has a Masters degree in Applied Psychology, had his own TV show on RTE ONE, and has presented TEDXtalks at University College Cork, Trinity College Dublinand the Michael Smurfit Business School. A trained actor and screenwriter, he’s written six books that have been translated into over a dozen languages and worked with celebrities, olympic athletes and billionaires. He has shared the stage with the likes of Sir Richard Branson, marketing genius Seth Godin, Dr. Richard Bandler and Jean Claude Van Damme.
Owen struggled in his younger years with depression and lack of confidence. Feeling like an outsider and unable to impact others made him obsessed with learning everything he could about psychology. Having travelled extensively to 92 countries, including North Korea, Rwanda and Afghanistan, Owen is fascinated by how propaganda, storytelling and influence work. He’s delivered talks and courses in more than 27 countries in his inimitable rap style.
Mental Artist Patrick Smith is a British graphic designer and art director based in Hong Kong. He creates digital graphics and design systems and makes them communicate with audiences on an instant, subliminal level. In 2014 he designed a series of striking posters that depict various mental health conditions in a quirky, minimalist style (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Agoraphobia, Anorexia Nervosa, Depression, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Narcolepsy).
He came up with these designs in an attempt to explode the stigma surrounding mental illness and raise awareness of the topic. Patrick’s designs have sparked wider debate and been picked up by the largest media outlets in the world, providing a platform for issues that don’t always get a mainstream voice. We are beyond thrilled to have an opportunity to elevate Patrick’s incredible work.
Ambassador Jade Bryant is a multi-talented artist, activist and writer from Devon, UK. She practices art as self-help therapy and inspires others to do the same. By challenging popular misconceptions of conditions like borderline personality disorder (BPD) and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), conditions she struggles with herself, she spreads awareness, understanding and a message of hope.
Jade may be our youngest ambassador, but she’s already a powerhouse of creative ideas, wit, grit, fizz and talent. She’s a features writer and campaigner for non-profit Art Saves Lives International, raising awareness of mental health issues and all forms of social inequality. Jade invites commissions of her beautiful artwork. She particularly enjoys commissions of wildlife and pets. We are so excited to be working with Jade on upcoming art exhibitions in HK & Asia.
Resident Photographer Enrique (‘Ricky’) Rueda Sadiosa has made Hong Kong his second home since the 1990s. Originally from the Philippines, he’s traveled to more than 150 international cities and countries. A passionate human rights advocate, in 2017 Ricky was shortlisted for the Justice Centre Hong Kong’s Human Rights Art Prize for his photo journalism. Ricky recently spent 5 years traveling the world in the footsteps of Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. During his travels, he’s produced a feature-length documentary film and taken photographs for his latest 500-page coffee table book.
In 2010, Ricky accidentally ran to be President of the Philippines after he showed up to take photos of the presidential selection process and accidentally got ushered into the wrong room. Instead of being surrounded by journalists, he found himself surrounded by presidential hopefuls. Despite being woefully unprepared, Ricky couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a crack at running for president himself. He improvised a campaign speech on national television and duly progressed to the next three stages of the contest. He was eventually disqualified. But only for having spent just 3 days in the Philippines that year. (NOTE: Apparently, if you want to run for President of the Philippines, you have to have been resident there for at least a week. Bah!)
Mental Ideas is excited to be working with Ricky as our newest recruit and Resident Photographer on two new art projects, ExperiMENTAL and Healing Hong Kong. Both projects will culminate in art and photography exhibitions at our new premises in Hong Kong early next year. Ricky will also be taking part as a guest on our Mental Ideas Podcast after he came out with this off-the-cuff corker: “I’ve often wondered if passion isn’t a form of mental illness?” Umm? And just like that, a new episode of the Mental Ideas Podcast was born!
Mental Artist James McIntosh combats his depression by knitting and nibbling his way to good mental health. His cookbook, Knit & Nibble, won an award from Gourmand and has been hailed “The Most Innovative Cookbook In The World”.
Raised on a farm in Northern Ireland, James is now based in London. He has won multiple, international awards as a food writer and also works as a food consultant and TV presenter. Mental Ideas intends to collaborate with James on a number of creative projects. Expect announcements of knitting (or nibbling – we enjoy both activities) competitions in the very near future..!
Ifat Kafry Hindes
Health Ambassador Ifat Kafry Hindes is a trailblazing wellness entrepreneur and writer from Hong Kong. She’s Health Editor for Hong Kong Living and a columnist for Sassy Hong Kong. Born in Israel, she was raised in the Caribbean in early life and predominantly thereafter in Hong Kong. Ifat speaks out about her ongoing battles with depression and Meniere’s disease.
The busy mother of two has successfully set up her own gluten free bakery in Hong Kong and is now writing her first cookbook. She’s received plaudits and media attention for her dedication to tackling mental and physical health through diet and healthy lifestyle choices. She is the recipient of ‘Top Pick‘ Luxe City Guides 2013, ‘Editor’s Choice’ at the Foodie Forks Award 2014, and MediaZone’s ‘Most Valuable Companies in Hong Kong‘ Award, 2016. We’re not worthy! No really, we’re not.
Mental Artist Shawn Coss is a dark art artist from Ohio, USA. He’s been working at his craft professionally for 9 years, as an independent artist, as well as an artist for the widely popular webcomic series, Cyanide & Happiness. He’s also a co-owner and artist for Ohio-based lifestyle brand, Any Means Necessary clothing.
Though he’s been known for his association with Cyanide & Happiness, in 2016 he created the mental health series, Inktober Illness, as part of the annual Inktober series, which completely altered his art direction to focus more on artwork that helps create and shape the conversation on mental health. His dark art has gone viral many times and it’s still spreading. It’s been life changing to say the least that an artist from Ohio is able to connect with so many who feel like they don’t have a voice. We are so excited to connect with Sean and have an opportunity to feature his dark art on our platform! (It’s too blue without it.)
Ambassador Rebecca Dandridge-Walker is a self-taught artist from Camden, London. Born deaf, Becky is a force of nature who has made the most of every opportunity that has come her way. As well as enjoying a successful career as an artist, Becky qualified as a teacher and taught art to students without disabilities in London schools. She is married to photographer David Walker and has two teenage sons, Alphie and Edwin. After specializing in pottery, she started experimenting with portraiture as a creative way of channeling her stress, anxiety and physical pain while awaiting major surgery for a full hip replacement during the UK’s strict lockdown.
As personally rewarding and inspiring as a year in lockdown was in terms of helping her discover and develop new art forms, it was also frustrating. Her latest collection illustrates how the pandemic impacted the mental health of the deaf community. For Becky and millions of other deaf people across the world, mandatory mask wearing not only impeded her ability to enjoy people’s smiles and facial expressions, it blocked her ability to lip read and interact with others. The impact of losing this most fundamental form of communication was profound, leading to increased anxiety, loneliness and isolation on a scale that is not comprehendible to those of us who don’t share her disability. Undefeated, Becky threw herself into raising awareness of how the pandemic affected the mental health of everyone, but especially the deaf community, through her art. Mental Ideas is proud to support such an inspirational artist and her incredible artwork. We look forward to working with her on exploring mental health through the lens of those who are also heroically coping with lifelong disabilities.
Ambassador Will Pullen is a BACP psychotherapist specializing in helping adults and young people overcome depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, substance abuse and other issues to transform their lives using his pioneering method, Dynamic Running Therapy.
Will began running about 10 years ago after suffering a personal crisis as an emotional release and a way of addressing his own mental health issues, particularly depression. It was this experience that led him to train as a psychotherapist and write the self-help book Run for Your Life, which was published by Penguin in 2017. The book offers a series of simple mental routines that unleash the meditative, restorative powers of running.
Despite being a passionate advocate for running to combat depression, anxiety, addiction and other mental health issues, Will is the first to admit that he’s not very good at it. But while we probably won’t see him competing at the Olympics any time soon, Will is confident his Dynamic Running Therapy is worthy of an Olympic Gold. Will is our first Fitness Ambassador.
Param Vibe Mirpuri
Ambassador and Resident Artist Param Vibe Mirpuri is a fusion artist who fuses his passions for spoken word poetry, dance, acting and art to create positive messages about mental health. Param is drawn towards mental health as a driving force for his creativity. He believes that understanding mental illness through the lens of a performance creates a power source for touching the human heart and healing the mind. Mental health recovery is all about creating the right vibe for that change to take place.
Born in London, Param was raised in Mumbai. He has been dancing for over a decade and trained under the tutelage of Ashley Lobo at the Danceworx Company, Mumbai. While based in India, Param performed in competitions and commercials for big name brands like FILA & Puma.
Param returned to London two years ago, where he met filmmaker and fellow Mental Ideas ambassador Raffaello DeGruttola. Raff immediately spotted his potential and created a short film about mental health based around Param’s work. The short won the 2019 Best Short Film Fest in Ontario, Canada.
With an award-winning film under his belt and his dance career in London taking off, Param suffered a frustrating setback when a knee injury severely impeded his mobility for 8 months. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, Param continued to actively pursue (as actively as he could with a shattered knee) his career and invented an innovative chair dance! He now wants to use his dance to inspire young people with disabilities to create their own dances and encourage freedom of self-expression.
Mental Patron Amy Shroff is a writer, designer and sustainable lifestyle entrepreneur from Hong Kong. She is the Creative Director of Banyan Lifestyle, the parent company of Banyan Workspace, which she co-founded and launched with her husband Rasheed in 2019.
After graduating from Swansea University with a BSc in Psychology, Amy spent her early 20s working as a scriptwriter for broadcasters and production indies in the UK before returning to Hong Kong in 2001.
Amy has a deep-rooted commitment to helping others. She has organized numerous fund-raising events in aid of the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation, as well as being a committed supporter of children’s charity OneSky with her husband Rasheed. She recently partnered Mind HK on a project for World Mental Health Day and her company is a sponsor of ImpactHK. Amy is the sister-in-law of Mental Advisor and Central Minds founder Dr. Sharmeen Shroff.
Amy is passionate about interior design and has renovated houses and apartments in Hong Kong through her property development company. Working with professional designers on the renovation of Banyan Workspace and seeing it emerge from industrial go-down to chic eco-luxury office and one of Hong Kong’s most stylish and highly sought event spaces has been a dream project for her.
Dr. Barry Connell
Mental Advisor Dr. Barry Connell MBBS (London) M Soc Sci MRCPsych FHKCPsych FHKAM (Psychiatry) first arrived in Hong Kong in 1989 when he was working as a military psychiatrist for the British Army. He left the army for a private practice in the summer of 1990, treating Hong Kong’s wealthy circles and business entrepreneurs for the next 11 years. He then decided to take a career break and left Hong Kong for Europe to pursue different interests, appearing as an expert on Channel 4 television in the UK and then training as a chef in Paris, as you do.
Eleven years later, he returned to Hong Kong, and the medical field, treating patients at the Central Health Medical Practice. As an expert, Barry’s not shied away from controversial topics like Why Psychopaths Make Good Business Leaders. He’s a regular talking head within the Hong Kong and international media and a guest on creative director Sadie Kaye’s RTHK documentaries Bipolar Express & As Bad As It Gets.
Barry has been active in mental health charities throughout his career, sitting on boards and offering medical advice to Mind UK and the Black Dog Institute, as well as to Mental Ideas.
Dr. Sharmeen Shroff
Mental Advisor Dr. Sharmeen Shroff Psy.D. MA (USA) MSc BSc (UK) has worked in the field of psychology for over 12 years. As a clinical psychologist, Sharmeen utilizes a combination of directive and non-directive therapy techniques, giving clients the skills they need to improve their lifestyle while allowing them space for their own growth and development. Sharmeen works with individual adults in therapy.
Sharmeen is a professional member of the Hong Kong Psychological Society, the American Psychological Association and the Northern California Society of Psychoanalytic Psychology. She’s also an associate professor at City University, Hong Kong, where she supervises and teaches doctoral level Clinical Psychology to students.
Sharmeen provides pro-bono therapy to refugees and asylum seekers at Christian Action in Hong Kong.
Chairman David Cottam is a British historian, a director of Hong Kong company Banyan Workspace and a former director of Brainstorm Media, the company that supported Mental Ideas through its first couple of years. David is a passionate supporter and advocate for mental health charities in Hong Kong, including Mental Ideas and Bipolar HK. Prior to that, David worked in education. He was Principal of Sha Tin College 1990-2009. In July 2022 he penned a note to friends and family on a rainy afternoon that got posted online, widely shared, and picked up by the China Daily. The opinions expressed are the author’s own, not those of Mental Ideas, but we highly recommend his article as a revealing read for anybody interested in a more balanced and nuanced assessment of Hong Kong’s history and the unique set of challenges it faces than you will generally find in the Western media: https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/a/279446.
David has since become a regular opinion columnist for the China Daily. He divides his time between homes in Hong Kong, the UK and Spain.