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”.

So far in 2023, a total of 515 people from 28 states registered. Total 170 people finished training and became Mental Health First Aiders!! Congratulations !! 

In 2021, the UCA WAVES Program (WAVES) sponsored the training of five Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructors. WAVES Training Director Elaine Peng, NAMI state trainer and peer support expert in Chinese communities, will direct all future MHFA training. WAVES facilitated four in-person MHFA training sessions in North Carolina, working with North Carolina Central University department of Nursing since 2021. We are currently developing a culturally adapted curriculum, including a translation of the MHFA Adult teaching material into Chinese. We will work on adapting the MHFA Youth curriculum to Chinese in May, with training for all bilingual MHFA certified trainers starting in the summer of 2022.

In the meantime, we have just begun virtual English MHFA training for 2022. WAVES’ first virtual MHFA training session will be on April 16, with four more English sessions planned in May, June, July & August. Registration information will be posted on WAVES’ bilingual social media (@uca.waves on Instagram, @ucaunited on Twitter) – please stay tuned!

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) .

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: