By Dee Allan
Life as an expat is full of fun and adventure. As ‘Singpats’, we can avail a plethora of gorgeous food, cultural activities and dreamy travel destinations. However, despite the gloss and sheen, there may be moments when we find ourselves facing a dark space.
According to the World Health Organisation, around 450 million people worldwide are currently suffering a form of mental illness, which makes this disorder among the leading causes of global ill-health. In Singapore, one in seven people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, which could be anything from bipolar disorder to alcohol abuse, and this statistic is on the increase.
While resources for mental health treatment do exist in Singapore, addiction and subsequent mental illnesses remains a taboo topic in Southeast Asia. As such, I was inspired to find a holistic treatment center in the region which could help people struggling in silence.
Hope Rehab Center
Located just over an hour from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport, Thailand, is rehabilitation center, Hope Rehab, licensed by the Thai Ministry of Health. While the center was initially founded to help those overcoming substance addiction, treatment at the facility deals with the root cause of the problem, which is often linked to depression and anxiety, meaning facilities such as this are also equipped to treat clients suffering from stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and burn-out issues.
Simon Mott the founder of Hope Rehab was a former heroin addict, who managed to turn his life around. He has talked candidly in the past about having a near-death experience as a result of his addiction, which acted as the trigger to start rebuilding his life. He subsequently set up Hope Rehab, to help other addicts and their families from all over the globe.
Hope Recovery Program
On entering the center, clients are greeted by an orange tudor-style house which takes prominence in the gardens. This building is the hub for activities; however, scattered across the gardens are several outbuildings, guestrooms, pavillions, fitness and yoga areas.
Hope’s recovery program is designed to restore physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, combining an ‘East meets West’ approach to support clients. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is complemented by a 12-step program (the Minnesota Model), which is entwined with physical fitness, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude sessions, recovery coaching and external activities to provide a holistic healing environment.
A Typical Day
During my visit, I was invited to participate in activities and dine with clients and team members. My day started at 6:30am, where I opted to join a group for a bicycle ride through greenery and villages, although clients can choose from an array of fitness activities. Once we arrived back, we gathered for a breakfast buffet.
Meditation & Gratitude
After breakfast, I joined clients for a meditation session led by one of the Thai team members, followed by a gratitude session, whereby each of us took turns in stating three things we were grateful for in that moment. These were powerful and humbling exercises.
Clients have a weekly schedule with planned activities each day. Sessions range from group and individual therapy, exercise, external excursions, as well as opportunities to relax by the pool, lounge, or play team sports. Clients also follow their individual programs and complete reflective activities within their personal workbooks.
During the day, I attended a mindfulness session. Our teacher took us through breathing and focus exercises to help ground us in the moment, explaining the core principles. The clients’ participation in the activity was touching, they seemed to genuinely want to learn and get better.
Food is freshly prepared every day in the outdoor kitchen by the center’s team, who put on an array of Asian and western food, including healthy and comfort food dishes. The buffet, mid-morning smoothies and afternoon snacks are delicious and plentiful.
Departing clients follow a post-recovery program to help support them when they are back in their home environment to help prevent relapses.
Before departing, clients have set goals and leave empowered with an action plan. They can check-in with their counselor, join online sessions and converse with an online community to keep on track with recovery goals. There is a ‘sober house’ for those continuing their recovery program. Here clients can learn new skills, such as teaching English as a second language, and can volunteer to teach kids from the local community.
The idea is to help clients regain a sense of purpose and belonging.
Hope for Everyone
On speaking with Simon, he indicated that his facility has treated thousands of people from homeless to royalty, from unemployed to millionaires. He left me with the profound notion that, “addiction doesn’t discriminate”. My personal hope is that more people talk about mental illness and addiction without shame, and seek help.
The Hope Rehab center can be contacted through: hope-rehab-center-thailand.com.