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Emily Wu Truong: Award-Winning Mental Health Speaker Inspires Others to Find Meaning in Their Struggles Ep 198

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

Emily Wu Truong is a motivational mental health speaker. She is affiliated with NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and has been involved with this organization for the last 8.5 years speaking on mental health awareness. I’ve invited her on to Talking Taiwan as a guest since July is BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) Mental Health Month. Emily spoke with me about her own struggles with mental health, and suicide. She has a passion for working with youths on mental health related issues. She also shared her thoughts about the oppression and trauma experienced firsthand or as generational trauma by the people of Taiwan, and how it could impact one’s mental health.


About Emily Wu Truong



Emily Wu Truong is an award-winning mental health advocate, nationally-recognized motivational speaker, catalytic thought leader, community educator, playwright and published author. For over a decade, Emily has worked tirelessly to create more compassionate & accepting communities by bringing mental health education wherever she goes. As a speaker, Emily utilizes her story from depression to self-actualization, inspiring others to find meaning in life struggles. She has spoken to a variety of audiences, including students from elementary school to graduate school students, school administrators, teachers, families, law enforcement, faith-based communities, medical and mental health professionals and many more. Over the years, in recognition of Emily’s efforts to raise awareness on mental health and emotional resilience, she has been featured in the California Mental Health Movement “Each Mind Matters,” Good Morning America, NBC Asian America, LA 18 and World Journal (世界日報). Emily has also been honored with the “2015 Woman of Achievement Award” by former Senator Ed Hernandez. Also in 2015, Emily was honored with the Youth and Young Adult Leadership Award at the 29th Annual National Alternatives Conference in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2017, the Los Angeles County Supervisors honored Emily’s request to establish May 10th as “Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day.” In 2018, former Assemblyman Ed Chau honored Emily with the 2018 Make A Difference Award. Emily has become a role model for many, sharing her life lessons and delivering her message that helplessness is not hopelessness and that with help, there is hope.


This episode of Talking Taiwan has been sponsored by NATWA, the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association.



NATWA was founded in 1988, and its mission is:


  1. to evoke a sense of self-esteem and enhance women’s dignity,
  2. to oppose gender discrimination and promote gender equality,
  3. to fully develop women’s potential and encourage their participation in public affairs,
  4. to contribute to the advancement of human rights and democratic development in Taiwan,
  5. to reach out and work with women’s organizations worldwide to promote peace for all.


To learn more about NATWA visit their website: www.natwa.com


Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • Why she’s been called the lady in green
  • How Emily tries to talk about mental health in a positive light
  • The struggles that Emily felt growing up
  • How the painting “The Potato Eaters” by Van Gogh reminds her of how she felt disconnected from her family in the past
  • How she started asking existential questions about life when she was in junior high
  • Competitiveness in the Asian culture
  • Comparisons made by Asian parents, families and relatives
  • Emily’s passion for the mental health of youth
  • How important it is for kids to have supportive friends
  • How Emily struggled in elementary school and was bullied in junior high
  • Emily’s best friend in high school Enoch who helped her to get through high school
  • How Emily used dating as a coping skill in the past
  • How Emily is a suicide survivor what her to consider suicide and what stopped her from committing suicide
  • Emily’s thoughts on school shootings
  • Her first experience with a therapist and counseling in college
  • How Emily wants to help young people to develop coping skills to deal with their parents and peers so that they don’t need to internalize things
  • How Emily took an interest Taiwan in order to bond with her mother
  • How Emily competed in the Miss Taiwan pageant
  • How Emily discovered that her mother’s cousin is Taiwanese activist Koh Se Kai and that encouraged her to be more outspoken
  • How Emily got involved in the Write in Taiwanese Census Bureau, TACL and FAPA
  • Emily’s thoughts on how the people of Taiwan have been oppressed and how and trauma experienced firsthand or as generational trauma could impact one’s mental health
  • Author Iris Chang who died by suicide
  • Emily’s work with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)


Related Links:


Emily’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/emilywspeaks


Emily on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emilywspeaks/


Emily’s Facebook group, Asian Mental Health Advocates Unite:



Mental Health of America’s web page for BIPOC Mental Health Month: https://www.mhanational.org/BIPOC-mental-health-month


Happy Mental Health Awareness Month! It’s Time to Normalize the Elephant! (an article from TaiwaneseAmerican.org written by Emily Wu Truong):



Emily Wu Truong’s story in Each Mind Matter’s Anti-Stigma Campaign: https://youtu.be/kcBw53dSp2c


Emily’s work on this short film with a filmmaker friend Sundaram Ader: Letter to My Younger Self: https://youtu.be/u9Xq67UQZsI


Emily Wu Truong (MLE): Mental Oppression to Liberation: https://youtu.be/5o8YqX4PTcs


The Potato Eaters (painting by Van Gogh): https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/collection/s0005v1962


Taida aka National Taiwan University: https://www.ntu.edu.tw/english/


Inside  Out (film): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_Out_(2015_film)






Friends by Michael W. Smith (on YouTube): https://youtu.be/wdPE0vqh9RQ


Iris Chang: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iris_Chang


What is vicarious trauma:





The Five Love Languages: https://5lovelanguages.com/


My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story (TED Talk): https://www.ted.com/talks/sue_klebold_my_son_was_a_columbine_shooter_this_is_my_story?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare


Write in Taiwanese U.S. Census campaign: https://tapla.org/Census-Write-In-Taiwanese






TACL (Taiwanese American Citizens League): https://tacl.org/


WUFI (World United Formosans for Independence): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_United_Formosans_for_Independence


Koh Se-kai: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koh_Se-kai


FAPA (Formosan Association for Public Affairs): https://fapa.org/


Uprising by Muse (music video): https://youtu.be/w8KQmps-Sog


What is Generational Trauma: https://www.health.com/condition/ptsd/generational-trauma




228 Incident/Massacre (February 28, 1947): https://228massacre.org/






Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd


Post-traumatic growth (PTG): https://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/11/growth-trauma


Emotional CPR: https://emotional-cpr.org/


NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): https://nami.org/


Recovery International: https://recoveryinternational.org/


Susan Chung: Talks About her Career in Mental Health and BIPOC Mental Health Month (Episode 196): https://talkingtaiwan.com/susan-chung-talks-about-her-career-in-mental-health-and-bipoc-mental-health-month-ep-196/


Taiwanese Census Campaign Challenges the Pew Research Center: Our Interview with Christina Hu and Chieh-Ting Yeh (Episode 148): https://talkingtaiwan.com/taiwanese-census-campaign-challenges-the-pew-research-report-our-interview-with-christina-hu-and-chieh-ting-yeh-ep-148/


The 228 Massacre: Taboos, Scars, Stigmas and an Essential Lesson in Taiwan History (Episode 171): https://talkingtaiwan.com/the-228-massacre-taboos-scars-stigmas-and-an-essential-lesson-in-taiwan-history-ep-171/


Helping 228 Survivors Deal with Trauma: Dr. Michi Fu and Dr. Tsuann Kuo Work with the Transitional Justice Commission (Episode 172): https://talkingtaiwan.com/helping-228-survivors-deal-with-trauma-dr-michi-fu-and-dr-tsuann-kuo-work-with-the-transitional-justice-commission-ep-172/


Will China Attack Taiwan? Kuan-Ting Chen Discusses Ramifications of the War in Ukraine on Taiwan (Episode 175): https://talkingtaiwan.com/will-china-attack-taiwan-kuan-ting-chen-discusses-ramifications-of-the-war-in-ukraine-on-taiwan-ep-175/


A Discussion with Dr. Eunice Yuen About Asian American Mental Health (Episode 93): https://talkingtaiwan.com/a-discussion-with-dr-eunice-yuen-about-asian-american-mental-health-ep-93/


This Is My Brain in Love: A Conversation With Author I.W. Gregorio (Episode 87): https://talkingtaiwan.com/this-is-my-brain-in-love-a-conversation-with-author-i-w-gregorio-ep-87/

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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