After multiple tragedies, famed champion boxer and mental health advocate fights on to help others.
Mia St. John understands tragic grief. Her son, Julian, who suffered from schizophrenia, committed suicide in 2014. Just last year, Julian’s father and Mia’s ex-husband actor Kristoff St. John passed away as well. After such loss, it’s understandable how someone could stumble back into old habits and break 30 years of sobriety. But for Mia, a world champion boxer and mental health advocate, she knew she had to get better. “There was a point where I thought that I would not recover and I was at my lowest low,” she said. “There was nowhere to go, I felt, but up. That's my personality. I always have felt that when I feel like I have no lower, I feel like I have no choice, but to pick myself up and fight on.”
And she has. Mia is a staunch advocate for shining the light on the stigma of mental health and bringing its sufferers out of the darkness. Through her charitable organization, the Mia St. John Foundation, she helps those with mental health issues find dignity and purpose. She gives talks all over the country bringing awareness about the importance of mental health as well what to look for when someone is suffering, such as disinterest in normal activities, irrational speech, less interaction or any talk of suicide and depression. “Pay attention to that call for attention,” she says.
What inspired you to become an advocate for mental health?
I've always been interested mental health. My degree is in Psychology. My profession was as a fighter and I had always had interests in mental health, especially after my son was diagnosed with schizophrenia. After the death of my son, I realized how inadequate our mental health facilities are in the state of California. … I feel that to shut them down is not the answer, but to reform them instead.
Who taught you the most about happiness and why?
My sister, Leslie, who's deeply spiritual, taught me the most about happiness. The second person who taught me the most about happiness is Deepak Chopra. He has helped to guide my meditation.
When is the last time you laughed out loud?
I laughed out loud this morning.
What is your go-to book, movie or TV show that lifts your mood?
My go-to movie to lift my mood is The Stillness Is You. It's a very short film that you can buy on YouTube. Every time I feel down, it brings me up.
What is the kindest act someone has ever done for you?
We have just had a lot of like really dedicated fans who have remained loyal throughout the years and always manage to brighten my day with their sweet messages.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about traveling the world. As a 5-time boxing world champion, I was able to go to so many different countries and experience many different cultures. I love nature—from waterfalls, to the mountains, to the ocean, to the sunsets.
How do you make others close to you happy?
I make others happy by being happy myself, leading as an example. I always want to show an example of positivity. If I am happy, then I will inevitably help others around me to be happy.