Introducing our latest guest, Michelle Harris. She is a seasoned mentor, teacher, healer, and guide with over 25 years of experience in the fields of healing, empowerment, and spirituality. Michelle's passion lies in empowering individuals to unlock their true potential, and her services encompass a diverse range of offerings, from meditation and mindfulness workshops for all ages to specialized programs catering to children, teenagers, mothers, and women alike. Join us for an enlightening conversation as we explore the invaluable connection between well-being, empowerment, and education.
Read on to hear more about Michelle's story and how to equip our children with the tools to greater mental well-being.
Vannessa: Could you share a bit about your background and what inspired you to work in the field of mental well-being?
Michelle: I’ve always been curious and interested in what makes people tick, what drives human behaviour and as an empath and natural intuitive, from a young age, would feel the energy and the ‘unspoken’. In my 20’s I read a book about the mind and its power to heal and influence your life, and when I did the techniques, I was blown away by the power of it. However, following the death of both my parents and through battling deep internal struggles, I was in a lot of fear, anxiety, depression, and poor health. I had a food disorder, alcohol dependency, and was struggling with a self-punishment ‘mentality’.
Reaching rock bottom with no care to live, I started listening to guided meditations and was introduced to someone for healing. For the first time in years, I felt a sense of hope. One day, I suddenly had a mystical divine experience where energy poured through me as if from nowhere, and knew then I needed to learn about healing. I trained in different systems of healing and delved deep into my own mind and mental/emotional health. I also channelled my own system of healing and discovered more about myself on different levels. From there, everything grew...
For 25 years, I have developed different tools to assist with mental health and well-being, self-leadership, empowerment and healing, which I share with others around the world through various services, including Empowerment Mentorships, Energy Healing, Counselling, Mindfulness and Meditation, Well-Being Programs, and more.
Vannessa: From your experience, what are some common mental health challenges that children and teenagers often face, and what strategies can help them effectively navigate these challenges?
Michelle: Amid the multitude of challenges children face today, from academic pressures to social expectations and the digital realm's influences, mental health struggles have become increasingly prevalent. I see a lot of anxiety, stress, worry and depression. I also see poor self-image and a lack of self-esteem which can manifest in food disorders, controlling behaviours, or OCD. It seems that more are also diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and other neurodiverse challenges.
The good news is that there is much more talk and acceptance of mental health in HK and globally, making it more accessible to find help and an abundance of resources are available.
In addressing these challenges, the strategies used will depend on the child and the situation. However, as parents, we can be proactive.
Firstly, I would say communication is essential. Address the concerns and challenges with your child and help them feel heard, validated and understood. I feel this is crucial in any strategy. As a parent, you are the ones that offer safety and support. Children look to you for guidance and trust. Cultivating and developing that with your child is so important. Let them know they are not alone and you are there for them, without judgement. Really listen to what they are saying. Hold space and compassion.
Secondly, know the triggers – examine and ask what is causing the challenges. When we have mental health concerns, it is showing us that something has come out of balance. Take appropriate action to balance this. Introduce activities like mindfulness, meditation and self-empowerment tools to help them deal with the triggers.
In cases of greater complexity or severity, involving a mental health professional, counsellor, therapist, or healer can offer invaluable guidance.
Vannessa: How does prioritizing mental well-being contribute to a person's development into a strong and effective leader?
Michelle: Mental health is essential for effective leadership, for it fosters self-belief, self-empowerment and inner strength to carry you forward. With the right mindset, we have the resilience to overcome adversity and be the ‘master’ of our mind and emotional nature, rather than the victim or powerless to it. In this mindset, you achieve your goals, you allow setbacks or ‘failure’ as part of the development of success, and you keep going, not letting it affect your self-esteem or self-identity.
Adopting the mindset of ‘I AM enough’ or ‘I AM good enough’, will help you propel your children forward, reach for their dreams and fulfil their potential.
Vannessa: Building mental strength and resilience is essential for leadership. What advice can you offer to students, especially at a young age & teens, to begin cultivating these qualities?
Michelle: It’s very important for students to know that they are ‘enough’ just as they are. I see this as a way to build healthy self-esteem from a young age, where they feel capable to do anything. This is what I call the “Core Foundation of Self”. Then, the rest is a natural extension of that. Children develop themselves from that foundation. So when there are challenges, the challenges don’t define them but are a stepping stone to work through, that over time build strength and resilience.
Also, leadership is also about self-leadership – directing yourself forward in life and embracing risks, challenges and opportunities. Not every child is intended to be a ‘leader’ in the traditional sense, but self-leadership is essential for everyone as part of reaching our human and soul /life potential.
I recommend that students start by building on their core strengths and abilities. Know that what is right for others is not necessarily right for them. I encourage kids to stop comparing and trust and believe in their unique selves, gifts and talents. Each child is different, so follow your own truth and what makes you ‘you’.
Vannessa: With the increasing demands and pressures students face in various aspects of their lives, such as academics and extracurricular activities, do you believe parents should advocate for a balance in their children's lives? If so, how can they achieve this balance effectively?
Michelle: Absolutely! Our children learn from us as parents. How we deal with life’s challenges, how we respond and react to situations, how we manage ourselves and our emotions.
Balance is an essential life lesson for us all, and teaching your kids and advocating this for them, is crucial. It starts with us, being role models.
To support your child, create time in schedules for ‘play’ or free time to just ‘be’ with no agenda or having to fill it with activities or achievements. Children are also more likely to perform better when they feel rested, and (even more importantly) when doing what brings them joy!
Vannessa: The Empowerment School platform for kids and teens is designed to offer "education for the soul." Could you explain how it addresses the mental well-being of young individuals and prepares them for future leadership roles?
Michelle: The Empowerment School (TES) platform was created from a vision shared to me many years ago, of a school that would be the education for our future. We can learn through the traditional educational systems and gain knowledge, but I felt more is needed about life and soul development. Therefore, I wanted to create an “education” system that served the heart, spoke the truth and helped children be seen for who they truly are. To help them feel understood and allow their true soul gifts to shine. Such has been the deeper motivation for all my work and initiatives for children/teens ever since. In working with young people, I also see that our children need different ways of teaching and other kinds of support for their life and soul journeys. We need to guide them in different ways, which may not be the same as the way we, as parents, were guided.
TES offers tools and tips through mindfulness, meditation, and various empowerment & life development programs, to help them access their true self, allow their gifts, and be comfortable in their own skin. To know their uniqueness and be at peace with who they are. From this Core Foundation of Self, they can thrive and reach their potential. If this means being a Leader, then they step into that role from this foundation. They also learn Self-Leadership, which means they learn to be true to their values, talents, and unique life and soul purpose.
Vannessa: Given your expertise in alternative healing practices, what daily habits or practices do you recommend for students to incorporate into their lives to support their mental, spiritual, and leadership journeys?
Michelle: Here are my top tips for students (or anyone!) looking to develop their mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
I recommend a daily mindfulness or meditation ritual. This doesn’t have to be a long process, just simple breathing to connect within can be sufficient. This will also help re-balance and calm the nervous system. It also guides you to your Inner Self and Soul.
Students can also focus on their talents and gifts, and build from there. Building self-empowerment by knowing their strengths builds self-esteem.
Teens can also journal their feelings, or express them through art, movement or dance.
Training the mind through visualisation is also a great way to develop mind/mental mastery and improve mental health. Affirmations are positive statements that you focus on daily, and these can be used to reinforce a positive mindset and empowering beliefs.
I also recommend seeking out groups with like-minded people with similar interests and who understand what they may be going through. This helps them develop a social network and support community.
Finally, if things get tough, reach out to someone. Talking to someone they trust, whether a parent, teacher, friend or expert, can help offload what they are feeling. This helps students develop emotional mastery and mental health awareness management.
*You can find a number of tools and tips in Michelle’s workbook “Tools & Tricks for Tweens & Teens’ available at Bookazine.
If you're keen to learn more from Michelle, join our next Mums Meet Up.
Date: 13 Oct
Time: 10:15 am – 12:15 pm
Location: Withers Office, 30/F United Centre, 95 Queensway
More information here.