WAVES Programs

Film Making

WAVES Documentary Film Director Changfu Chang is currently producing “Silent War: Asian American Reckoning with Mental Health,” which features four Asian American families and their grappling with mental health issues.

This is the trailer of a full-length documentary on mental health in the Asian American community. The film, a work in progress, profiles multiple members of our community stepping up to share their own battles with mental illness. Their accounts highlight the unique challenges we face as Asian Americans and the unspoken toll it has taken on us. We need change, and that begins by telling our people’s stories, stories that save lives.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training

UCA WAVES, in partnership with MHACC, has been conducting “Mental Health First Aid Training” sessions to educate the community about mental health and boost their ability to prevent or handle crises, allowing them to become “mental health guardians” for themselves and their loved ones. 

Managed by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, this certification course equips attendees with skills to recognize and respond to crises and substance abuse symptoms. Two separate courses are available for adult and youth first aiders. Successful participants earn a globally recognized “MHFA Certificate”.

Blue Cross NC Foundation Research Project

“In November 2023, UCA WAVES registered as an independent 501c3 non-profit organization in the state of North Carolina. UCA WAVES, in partnership with Karen Community Farm at Oaky Grove, and with the support from North Carolina State Representative Maria Cervania and 13 North Carolina organizations, formed an Asian Pacific American health coalition to apply to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation research grant. The UCA WAVES-led coalition was selected as the only recipient of this grant in North Carolina.

The grant aims to “provide insights on the community conditions, health trends, and priorities impacting the health of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in North Carolina”.

The project will take a multifaceted approach that includes an assessment of the statewide Asian American Native Hawaiians Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) community demographics and health status, in-depth discussion of health needs and barriers through focus groups, a comprehensive health survey, and in-depth interviews centering on lived experiences.

This funding opportunity is designed to advance North Carolina-specific learnings about the health priorities of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and the kinds of strategies and systems changes that could be successful in promoting and improving the overall health and well-being of these communities. The project has started with the first successful listening session on March 24th, 2024.”

On March 24, UCA WAVES successfully held its first Health Listening Session in Apex, North Carolina, with 15 participants. At the meeting, everyone spoke freely and shared many ideas, suggestions and needs based on their lived experiences.

Elevating Voices

“Too often, parents lose a child to suicide. In Chinese culture, we value education, but there is no mention of psychological health. As a nurse, I didn’t have training in mental health. I had to learn from my daughter.”

—— UCA WAVE’S Project Director, Lily Chen shared her Big Idea Talk addressing mental health and suicide in AAPI community during the graduation of the three-year Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar Leadership Development Program (RWJF) .

NAMI at Noon is a monthly webinar series covering a wide variety of mental health topics in an informative and inspiring format. Attendees will meet guest experts from around the country who will present on understanding mental illnesses, innovations in therapies and techniques, developing coping skills, and more.

In this session, we will discuss how youth in the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community are struggling, and mental health issues and suicide are on the rise. How can parents, educators, and mental health care providers create more positive outcomes for AAPI youth? Join community organizer and educator Jian “Lily” Chen for an open Q&A on mental health stigma and cultural identity in the Asian American community, as she shares her own experiences of parenting a child with mental illness.

Topics to be discussed:

  • How cultural norms and stigma in the AAPI community make it difficult to seek help
  • The importance of community dialogue and education in destigmatizing mental illness
  • Ways providers can improve their cultural sensitivity for their AAPI patients/clients

UCA WAVES Executive Director and PhD student Lily Chen has been invited to attend the 2024 Royster Global Conference in London, England and present her research on Asian American Mental Health. The Royster Society of Fellows is a highly selective doctoral fellowship program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dear UCA Friends,
We deeply grieve the tragedies that occurred this past week in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. When our community should have been celebrating Lunar New Year, we were shocked to learn that gun massacres had taken the lives of 17 people and injured 11 others, most of whom were Asian American. Monterey Park is a Los Angeles community with rich cultural history, and 65% of its residents identify as AAPI. Half Moon Bay, a small town south of San Francisco, is home to a low-income farming community, of which many members immigrated from Latin America and Asia, often surviving in labor encampments and toiling long hours under poor conditions for extremely low pay.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng tweeted in response to the Monterey Park shootings: “We don’t know motives yet, but I wonder how things could’ve been different had there been a strong mental health and social service network. Yes, it’s about gun safety laws, yes, it’s about stopping Asian hate, but also a generation of #AAPI elders with a life of unaddressed trauma.” As a youth mental health collaborative, UCA WAVES is committed to addressing the mental health needs of Asian American families. We are reminded by these tragedies to carefully attend to intergenerational dialogue, as well as to care deeply for our elders. 
Mass shootings are far too frequent in our American society. While messages like this could never capture the depth of our sorrow and the urgency we feel about reforms to prevent future tragedies, we urge everyone in the UCA WAVES community to come together in solidarity. If you have the means, please consider donating to the Monterey Park Lunar New Year Victims Fund and the Half Moon Bay Farmworker Shooting & Flood Victims Fund. Regardless of what action steps you choose to take, please make sure to care for your own mental health – as more information continues to surface, consider taking a break from the news, which can be distressing and overwhelming, and checking out the following resources:
UCA and the WAVES Team
Youth Ambassadors

The Youth Ambassadors are advised by mental health experts from our collaborating team of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars, who provide mentoring and guidance regarding program development. The team is currently piloting a weekly online peer support group, and hope to open this space to the public soon for interactive, empathic peer-to-peer engagement.

For questions, please contact WAVES Director Jian (Lily) Chen at lily.chen@ucausa.org.

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.

Community Outreach & Talk Space

UCA WAVES actively collaborates with other organizations and communities. Our main outreach activity is currently “Talk Space,” a peer support organization that is directed by our WAVES Director Jian (Lily) Chen with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars.

Working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) – North Carolina Central University (NCCU), Talk Space student mentors are trained with group facilitation skills, mental health first aid,  self care, and trauma informed care among other topics. The program was featured in local WRAL news here. Students and faculty advisors held movie “Wake Up” screening, are creating public service announcements (PSAs), and helped organize with WAVES ambassadors for events in November 2021. Please see the program video description here.

Parent Education Toolkits

As part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, WAVES Director .Jian (Lily) Chen andour professional partners Juliana Chen, Justin Chen, and Weiyang Xie are working on the project “Breaking Siences in the Mode Minorty national intervention to increase mental health awareness and decrease stigma Asian immigrant familes” As part of this proiect, the team is currently creating an educational tonlkit for Asian American parents, which wi focus on youth voices, general mental health knowledge, communication skills, and self-compassion.

Toolkit for Breaking Silences in the Model Minority

This toolkit was created for breaking silences and provide guidance to other community activists, public health professionals, academics, and researchers seeking to build a culture of health among Chinese American families.

Click the link below to read more about the toolkit: 


Community Outreach

WAVES Village

WAVES Village is a WeChat Group peer-support platform, part of UCA WAVES parent ambassador program . WAVES Village has a team of 50 volunteers serving the Chinese communities nationwide. We emphasize on listening nonjudgmentally and empowering through empathy with cultural considerations. We strive to:

🔹Provide a safe and open space for WAVES Villagers to share their experiences in their journey to promote mental health within families and communities.

🔹Promote public awareness of mental health and the cultural stigma.

🔹Build resilience in community.

🔹Engage, empower, connect, and grow as community members. 

🔹To join our awesome volunteer team , please fill out the form here: