Hong Kong is emerging from one of the most stressful 18 months in living memory – and it’s taken a toll on wellbeing. Mental health issues in the Asia-Pacific region are widespread and have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a 2020 report by City Mental Health Alliance.
The development has boosted wellness centres such as Hong Kong’s All About You, which offers a range of services for healing the inner child, from private hypnotherapy sessions to workshops. Focused on self-improvement and inner peace, the centre counts large companies including Four Seasons and HSBC among its corporate clients, according to business owner Sonia Samtani.
How did the pandemic affect your business?
We attracted more clients as there was more interest in personal growth. People had time to reflect and were keen to change their mindset. Last year, many of us had to battle with anxiety, depression and loss – not just losing someone close to us but loss of identity, loss of routine, loss of money and indeed life as we know it.
What treatments are popular right now?
The Healing Your Inner Child workshop is very popular, which is revisiting a younger version of ourselves if we are stuck in a trauma of the past. The Effective Public Speaking workshop is always popular, as it remains one of the biggest fears in the world! It’s about releasing emotional toxicity so we can move forward.
What kind of problems do clients typically come to you with?
It’s things like work or financial stress, people not knowing what to do with their lives, having difficulty dealing with life transitions, or coming to terms with their partner having a different outlook on finances and lifestyle.
Has the pandemic boosted mental-health awareness?
There’s been a huge increase in awareness, and there’s been much more media coverage of mental health. I’ve had more press in 2020 than in my whole career. Everyone is looking at this topic, and it’s really nice to see that wellbeing has become a buzz word.
What do corporate clients such as Four Seasons and HSBC come to you for?
They want to show staff they take wellness seriously with workshops and so on, but I advise not to make attendance mandatory. People who are there by choice are likely to be much more receptive.
Corporate clients want to know, “what can we do to help people with stress?” Stress is a problem and mindfulness is a solution. This is a good approach, but stress is often about having too much to do. Mindfulness is about being and taking away the doing!
What do your clients want?
For many, their objective is to be happy all the time. But there’s light and dark in every situation. Happiness is an emotion and all emotions are temporary. Life is unpredictable, and positivity only exists in comparison [to negative emotions]. It’s better to aim for peace, so you can be peaceful even when you’re sad. Peace is a state of mind more than an emotion. Judgement is what causes issues and acceptance heals all issues. Acceptance is not saying something is good or bad – it’s about allowing what’s going on.
What do you like about doing business in Hong Kong?
I love that Hong Kong is a small market, so it’s well networked – it’s not that difficult to get your name out here. The city’s compactness means we could have five meetings in a day without covering huge distances, which is another bonus.
What were the challenges of setting up a wellness practitioner?
When I became a therapist, the industry was new and there were many misconceptions about hypnotherapy, like it was some kind of mind control and people couldn’t look into my eyes. But I believed in it enough to carry on.
What are your long-term plans for your business?
I hope it can become a franchise across Asia, and there’s certainly a market for what I’m offering in Thailand and Mainland China.
All About You Centre