UCA WAVES – Youth Mental Health Collaborative

WAVES – Wellness. Advocacy. Voices. Education. Support

About UCA WAVES (slides)

For inquiries, please contact waves@ucausa.org

Wellness. Advocacy. Voices. Education. Support

Youth mental health is one of the most urgent issues for the Chinese American community members today. Stigma against mental illness, social isolation, cultural expectations, identity issues, low mental health literacy, and lack of available Chinese-speaking or culturally sensitive mental health professionals – all of these factors contribute to the problem. Chinese/Asian American youth are suffering “silently” with mental illness and emotional stress. We are here to stand together and work towards Wellness, Advocacy, Voices, Education, and Support (WAVES).


A Supportive and Engaging Community that Fosters Healthy and Holistic Development of Our Youths


  • Raise awareness of the mental health challenges that young Asian Americans face due to familial, cultural, and societal factors
  • Develop community support and resources for youth mental health
  • Promote cultural sensitivity to psychological well-being and responses
  • Encourage civic engagement in public policies to address mental health issues

WAVES Team Members

WAVES Professional Partners

WAVES Programs

Asian Parents American Children Conferences and Webinar Series

Since 2016, WAVES has served thousands of community members in the US and abroad through “Asian Parents American Children,” a free, open series of mental health educational seminars. In particular, our Youth Mental Health webinars conducted in 2020 drew over 3000 participants from 40+ states, and close to 90% were parents. Youth mental health education sessions were also offered at the 2016 and 2018 Chinese American Conventions. Amidst a rise of anti-Asian Hate during the pandemic, we organized educational webinars, including a Self-Defense and Empowerment training and an Op-Ed writing workshop titled “Silent No More: We Rise Up and Write Up.” We also supported the “One Book One World” book donation drive to Chicago public schools to promote awareness about Asian American history and narratives among children at an early age.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training

Congrats to three members of the WAVES team, who finished the 3-day training and became certified MHFA instructors in January & February 2021! Soon, we will have two instructors for Youth MHFA and two for Adult MHFA. For more information on MHFA, please visit www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org. We plan to start training selected community members in the Spring 2021, so stay tuned!

Youth Ambassadors

Currently, the Youth Ambassadors are focusing their energies on WAVES’ upcoming monthly webinars. See UCA’s upcoming events at https://ucausa.org/training-and-events/.

The Youth Ambassadors are advised by the UCA/RWJF Clinical Scholars, who provide mentoring and guidance regarding program development. In the future, the team hopes to initiate peer support groups, a series of online meetings to create a space for open, interactive, and empathic peer-to-peer engagement.

You can sign up to become an ambassador here (Sign Up) or learn more about us here (About Youth Ambassador Program).

Parent Peer-to-Peer Support Groups

WAVES will soon host peer-to-peer support groups for parents, with four goals: to 1) provide a safe space to share knowledge and experiences of youth mental health; 2) provide emotional support among the participants; 3) build a community of practices for effective parent-child communications, and; 4) help develop, pilot, evaluate, and disseminate Clinical Scholars educational toolkits to achieve the overarching goal of increasing Mental Health knowledge and decreasing stigma in the Chinese American community.

We are currently recruiting organizers for the Parent Peer Support Groups. Guided by our expert team of UCA/RWJF Clinical Scholars, parent peer group leaders will facilitate regular meetings. Stay tuned for more planning updates and invitations to join!

Parent Peer Support Group Needs Assessment preliminary results are now available , if you are interested please contact waves@ucausa.org.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholar Programs

Breaking Silences in the Model Minority: A national intervention to increase mental health awareness and decrease stigma in Asian immigrant families

Announcement: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar Programs

UCA is proud to announce members of its Youth Mental Health Initiative have been selected to participate in the 2020-2023 cohort of Clinical Scholar Fellows, part of the RWJF Leadership Program

UCA WAVES Received fundings from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar for “Breaking Silences in the Model Minority: A national intervention to increase mental health awareness and decrease stigma in Asian immigrant families.” Check out the project description here.

Nursing Student Peer Mentoring Program "Talk Space"

Supported by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar COVID Rapid Response Grant, and guided by Clinical Scholar and WAVES Advisor Dr. Wanda Thruston, we are helping develop a peer mentoring program at a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) – North Carolina Central University (NCCU). We have provided Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) to six student peer mentors and 3 faculty advisors. Students mentors are also trained with group facilitation skills, self care, and trauma informed care among other topics. The program was featured in local WRAL news here. Please see program video description here.


Video Educational Resources