■ On Thursday, January 8, 2009, the International Brain Education Association (IBREA), the Korea Institute for Brain Science (KIBS), the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Section of the United Nations Department of Social Affairs, and the NGO Committee on Mental Health co-sponsored a seminar at the United Nations entitled, “The Role of Brain Education in Global Mental Health.” The seminar was in keeping with the theme of Economic and Social Council’s 2009 Annual Ministerial Review, “Implementing the internationally agreed upon goals and commitments in regard to global public health.”
__ The day was a huge success, with over 100 people involved, including many distinguished speakers and guests. The speakers included UN affiliates, NGO representatives, educators, scientists, authors, physicians, workers in the field of mental health and advisory board members for IBREA. Special appreciation was extended to Dr. Hanifa Mezoui and Mr. Nikhil Seth of the UN, and to Ambassador Toihiri of Comoros and Mr. Modest Mero of Tanzania.
“There is no health without mental health.”
__ The focus of the seminar was on mental health, which has become a major burden globally. As the World Health Organization states, “There is no health without mental health.” Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. It is the state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to contribute to his or her community.
__ The interrelationship between physical and mental health is highly complex. Risk behaviors, health-seeking behaviors and compliance to treatment are significantly influenced by mental health status.
__ It is important for both government and civil society to take responsibility in creating environments which aid and support mental health. In order to improve mental health worldwide, behaviors, socioeconomic factors and environments all need to be considered. Creating programs and offering interventions that will promote regular mental and physical exercise can reduce the threats to one’s mental health.
__ According to the World Health Organization, people living in poverty are at a higher risk of developing mental disorders. When people develop mental disorders, they are likely to descend further into poverty due to the high cost of health care, decreased productivity and lost employment opportunities.
__ Brain Education initiated the conference because of its important role in creating a healthy lifestyle and reducing physical and mental health risks. Through a set of principles and practices, such as Brain Wave Vibration, focusing on the brain itself, Brain Education teaches us to tap into our brains’ innate potential for healing, well-being and peace. On a global level, Brain Education is dedicated to the betterment of humankind. When the world is populated by individuals who are happy and healthy, it will be a more peaceful place.
__ The seminar was opened by Mr. Nikhil Seth, Director of the United Nations Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination (ECOSOC), who gave a few opening comments about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and global public health. Dr. Hanifa Mezoui, Chief of the NGO section of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, spoke next about “the role of NGOs for global mental health.” She concluded with her hope that KIBS, as an NGO in consultative status to the UN, would contribute to the Geneva ECOSOC conference this summer. Dr. Janet Wetzel, Chair of the UN NGO Committee on Mental Health, spoke about “increasing awareness for global mental health.” She recited many statistics and WHO projections relevant to issues of mental health in the international community.
__ Mr. Modest Mero of Tanzania shared his insight about mental health in Tanzania.
__ Dr. Elkhonan Goldberg, an internationally renowned author and neuropsychologist, spoke about “neuroplasticity and cognitive health.”
__ Mr. Paul Green, founder of the Nevah Surrendah Parkinson’s Foundation, followed with an inspirational sharing about how he has overcome and is helping others overcome the often debilitating side effects of Parkinson’s disease.
__ Nora Lee and Dr. Warrington Parker spoke briefly about the IBREA School Project, and led the audience in a few minutes of Brain Wave Vibration.
__ Dr. Dan Pavel, an M.D. who specializes in nuclear brain imaging, spoke about the brain and evaluation with functional brain imaging.
__ Dr. Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher and New York Times best-selling author, spoke about “the neuroplasticity revolution.” He marveled at the brain’s ability to adapt, and gave examples demonstrating that the brain is much more flexible than we used to imagine.
__ The final speaker of the day was Mr. Ilchi Lee, who spoke eloquently about Brain Education and simple techniques such as Brain Wave Vibration. He spoke of his vision and hope for humanity, claiming, “The future of humanity lies in how we understand the brain and how to use it.”
__ It was then announced that in recognition of the value of Brain Education programs in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially recognized Mr. Ilchi Lee and dedicated January 8, 2009 as Brain Education Day in New York City.
__ The seminar achieved its goal of increasing awareness about global mental-health issues and cost-effective interventions by focusing on the role of Brain Education in promoting mental health. bw