The Thrive conference, hosted by the Cambodia Coaching Institute in collaboration with Omohub Arts and Mental Health, will take place on April 8 at the Factory Phnom Penh, located on National Road 2 in Meanchey district.

The event aims to explore the significant role of mental health in Cambodia’s socio-economic development and inspire excitement, engagement, and action around this topic.

“The conference is held to promote mental wellbeing as a whole,” said Chea Sovannady, support co-ordinator of the conference.

“This year’s topic ‘Courage to Dream’ aims to get people to envision what the future of Cambodia could be like with improved mental health and wellbeing,” she added.

The conference will feature keynote speeches, mental health workshops, roundtable discussions, and various talks about mental health from a wide range of specialists

The conference will emphasise the importance of listening to the voices of real people when developing responses and policies around mental health.

Representatives from the mental health field in Cambodia will expand the discussion around mental health beyond disorders and individual health issues to include family systems, culture, and broader societal factors.

“The wide breadth of the different speakers’ areas of expertise will centralise the importance of mental health and well-being for all people. What we want to accentuate are the links between mental health and socio-economic development,” said Sovannady.

Well-respected speakers including lecturer Chhem Kieth Rethy, Venerable Kou Sopheap, businessman and philanthropist Quach Mengly, representatives from the UN and EU, and other influential figures will discuss how their own areas of expertise can contribute to creating an environment conducive to good mental health and wellbeing.

According to Mengly – founder and CEO of Mengly J Quach Education – mental health plays a vital role in the wellbeing and educational performance of students.

“At our American Intercon School, we aim to remove students’ artificial limitations. We provide wellbeing support to help them succeed beyond what is expected. For the socio-economic development of Cambodia, mental health has significant untapped potential,” he said.

Bryan Fornari, head of cooperation of the EU Delegation to Cambodia, will also be speaking, along with Lida Loem from SHE Investments and Rithy Thul of Koompi and Smallworld Ventures.

Joey Ra, lead co-ordinator of the conference and founder of the Cambodia Coaching Institute, believes that trauma can lead to decreased IQ, EQ, creativity, decision-making, and relationships.

“While interest in mental health is growing, it is currently too focused on mental disorders, which are viewed as an individual’s issue to solve, which is false,” he said.

“Mental health is a systemic issue, and all parts of society must work together to create a healing and thriving society,” added Ra.

“We expect to have around 200 participants. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. We are not aiming to make a profit, but intend to cover our expenses,” said Sovannady.

The public is welcome to attend the event and encouraged to participate in discussions and engage with the panellists.