How Lunar New Year is Celebrated Among Asian Cultures

Lunar New Year is a diverse and beautiful holiday that is celebrated among many Asian cultures and families. In celebration of Lunar New Year, the team at the AANHPI ‘Ohana Center of Excellence has several stories of the significance of Lunar Near Year, and how we each celebrate this time of year.

On Feb 3rd, from 6-8 p.m, at Milpitas Civic Center Plaza, the local communities celebrated the Lunar New Year with live performances by the Aimusic School, VietYouth, Cantrelle’s Martial Arts, and Tina Dance School. The local communities were immersed in the festivity during this two-hour cultural feast. We enjoyed songs in ethnic languages and the music played with traditional musical instruments. The kids were happily engaged in creative crafts including making a dragon and calligraphy (see the picture of the word Dragon written in calligraphy by my 6-years old daughter). It was a great opportunity to inspire her to learn Chinese words and Chinese culture.

The word Dragon written in calligraphy
The word Dragon written in calligraphy by my 6-year old daughter.
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The lion and dragon dances were the highlights of the joyful event (see the video), which ended with a thrilling round of firecrackers. The firecrackers reminded me of all the Lunar New Year holidays that I spent in China before I came to the U.S. Many years ago, before the ban on firecrackers due to air pollution, almost every house in China lit firecracker on New Year’s Eve, while the family members get together to enjoy delicious traditional food and toast for a new year!

Ni and daughter at Milpitas Civic Center Plaza Lunar New Year celebration

Now let me make a toast to you: wish you a happy new year of Dragon, be as energetic as a dragon, and everything goes well for you. But don’t drink too much at parties. 😊 祝大家龙年,龙虎精神,万事兴“龙”!聚会时请不要贪杯哦。

Final appreciation to all the volunteers, community members, and local governments that made this event with free admission for all the communities happen. Thank you and happy new year!

The first day of the Asian Lunar New Year in 2024 is February 10, 2024. For many Asian families around the globe, New Year’s Eve, is the most important night with a tradition of gathering for a special dinner with family and preparing specific traditional foods. Many of the traditions have a spiritual aspect with a recognition of connection to ancestors, the elderly, and a celebration of children. This year New Year’s Eve is February 9th. The celebrations will continue for 15 days with visits to family and friends and the exchange of gifts of food and fruit along with red envelopes of lucky money for children. In my family, we spend days preparing food for New Year’s Eve dinner and buy gifts of food, plants, and lucky peach and plum blossom branches for neighbors and friends to be shared in the coming 15 days. We also clean our homes and family shrines to welcome the new year in good luck, health, and fortune. It is a time of renewal, a connection to the past and to the future.

Kyoung Mi Choi is a Professor in the Department of Counselor Education at San José State University, Program Specialist at the AANHPI ‘Ohana Center of Excellence. She is a regularly contributor to Psychology Today, Courageously and Boldly.

Memories of Seollal, Korean Lunar New Year

Having grown up in South Korea, I enjoyed the excitement surrounding the Lunar New Year, also known as Gujeong (구정) or Seollal (설날). Although I didn’t fully understand why we celebrated twice – once on the first day of January based on the solar calendar and again on the first day of the lunar calendar, which changes each year, I have fond memories of all the delicious dishes we had, such as Tteokguk (떡국, rice cake soup, a popular holiday dish symbolizing the gaining of a year in age), Jeon (전, savory pancakes), mandu (만두, dumplings), Japchae (잡채, a stir-fried dish made with glass noodles), and Bulgogi (불고기, thinly sliced marinated beef).

Family gatherings were filled with laughter and traditional games like Yutnori (윷놀이, a board game played with sticks). For children, it was common to wear traditional Korean clothing (한복, Hanbok) and fly kites (연날리기) with other kids in the neighborhood in the crispy cold air.

Children with Hanbok (Korean traditional cloths)
Children with Hanbok (Korean traditional cloths). Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Traditional Korean Food for Seollal courtesy of Korea.NET
Traditional Korean Food for Seollal courtesy of Korea.NET

During Seollal, we observed the special traditional bowing ceremony called Sebae (세배), where younger family members bow to their elders as a sign of respect and to receive blessings for the new year. In return, elders give blessings and money to the younger generation. I often saved the money, Sebaedone (세벳돈), received during Sebae to buy school supplies and books I desired but couldn’t afford.

Since immigrating to the United States over 20 years ago, I’ve sought to maintain my cultural connections and traditions, much like many other Korean Americans. Celebrating Seollal allows me to gather with Asian and Asian American friends and families, sharing our ancestral foods and reflecting on our immigration journeys. This sense of community and belonging is palpable among many Asian American friends and families.

I discovered that the Bay Area hosts numerous cultural events and community celebrations, providing opportunities to reconnect with my childhood memories and cultural identity. If you’re in the Bay Area, I invite you to join me in celebrating this special month with our families, friends, and communities as we honor our diverse traditions and heritages.


Here are some events you might consider attending:

The Lunar New Year is a significant celebration that holds a special place in the cultural heritage of various Asian communities, such as Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Mongolian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean, and more. This vibrant festivity is based on the lunar calendar and begins with the first new moon and ends on the first full moon. It symbolizes the start of a new year filled with good fortune and happiness.

This year, 2024, marks the Year of the Wood Dragon that symbolizes strength and the fulfillment of aspirations. The celebration begins on February 9th, and it is a time of cultural reflection and festivity (source).

The Lunar New Year is celebrated in various communities throughout the United States, particularly among Asian American communities. According to a Pew Research Center study, around two-thirds of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese Americans participate in Lunar New Year festivities (source).

Although not an official federal holiday in the United States, the Lunar New Year is gaining recognition. This is exemplified by California’s recent acknowledgment of the event. In 2022, the state, which boasts the largest Asian American population in the country, officially observed the occasion. Governor Newsom signed AB 2596, designating the Lunar New Year as a state holiday. This allows state employees to take the day off in honor of this culturally significant event (source).

Similar strides have been made in major cities like New York, where the Lunar New Year is recognized as a school holiday (source).

The Lunar New Year has a deep cultural and social significance that goes beyond just the festivities. It has a positive impact on emotional and psychological well-being. The celebration helps to foster family bonds, social connections, and a sense of cultural identity. The engagement in traditional customs and rituals also fosters a shared cultural experience that reduces isolation and enhances social cohesion. This is especially important for first-generation immigrants, like myself, who have limited family support in the United States.

During this time, I find comfort and connection by reaching out to loved ones in South Korea and the United States, inviting friends over, preparing traditional Korean dishes, and participating in community events. All these activities help me stay connected to my cultural heritage, which enhances my emotional and psychological welfare.

Lunar New Year on the Westside of Kaua‘i

I have rather fond memories of learning cultural traditions in Hawaii, the island of Kauai specifically. I was raised on the westside of the island in a town of primarily Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese immigrants. Starting in elementary school, we regularly learned about cultural traditions of Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and the Asian immigrants that worked in the sugar cane plantations. One of my vivid memories is learning about Lunar New Year, then referred to as Chinese New Year. We learned the Cantonese greeting for Lunar New Year (Gong Hay Fat Choy) and created either decorations or accessories in celebration of the holiday. I loved learning about the lunar zodiac and feeling immensely proud (and lucky) to be born in the year of the dragon. You could feel when the holiday was approaching as the Buddhist temples and local restaurants began adorning red and gold for the holiday. Naturally then, it only feels fitting to share these memories as we are about to ring in the year of the dragon again!

Now, learning about Lunar New Year was great. But what really got me excited was the food and the lion dancers. I remember the first time I encountered lion dancers. I was probably in kindergarten at the time and so our class was seated closer to the stage. It was thrilling to hear the drums and chimes begin the performance and to see the lion on stage. Its comically large head, brilliant red and gold body, and beautifully adorned face and mane will be forever an image that I remember. I remember the tricks and comedy that happened on stage and thoroughly delighted at watching the performance. What happened next will also be a lifelong memory. To my surprise, lion came down from the stage! No longer was I a spectator but now I was an active participant. Imagine my panic as one of the performers on stage announced on the microphone, “If the lion snaps or tries to bite you, that’s okay. That’s lucky!” Little five-year-old me could not comprehend how anything biting you could be lucky. I joined my classmates in the screaming and laughing that ensued as the lion made its rounds around the students.

When the assembly was dismissed, I breathed a sigh of relief and reminded myself that the best was yet to come, food! During this time, many foods got associated with Lunar New Year but the typical roster of dishes that I remember would be: manapua (steamed pork char siu buns), Chinese pretzels, kimchi, manju, stir-fried noodles (fried saimin and pancit), and dumplings (fried wonton). These foods were always around but were especially consumed at least in our house around the time of Lunar New Year.

Besides food though, my family did not do much else to celebrate Lunar New Year. As Filipino immigrants, they came from areas of the Philippines that did not celebrate Lunar New Year. The Philippines does have a significant Chinese community that observes the Lunar New Year. The influence of Chinese culture in the Philippines dates back centuries, with the arrival of Chinese immigrants who settled in the archipelago long before the Spanish colonization. Over time, these immigrants integrated into Filipino society while retaining their cultural practices, including the celebration of Lunar New Year. Today, Chinese-Filipinos, also known as Tsinoys, play a significant role in preserving and enriching these traditions.

As the holiday quickly approaches, I am excited to continue on enjoying the festivities and foods of Lunar New Year!

2024 AAAS Annual Conference: Asian American Studies in the 2020s

Asian American Studies in the 2020s: Disciplinary, Ethnic, Diasporic Identities

There are myriad examples of marginalization and decentering, but to elaborate on two, social scientists from underrepresented fields – namely, psychology, political science – were heavily involved in the formation of the association, Amerasia Journal, and Asian American Studies more generally, and yet those fields (as well as anthropology, communications, economics, sociology, etc) have not been centered – discretely or interdisciplinarily. Without claiming that these underrepresented social sciences are unproblematic, still, how might they and their methods help us shift our scholarly, pedagogical, and public-facing work as well as the broader discipline? Similarly, how might a more focused and intensive treatment of South Asian American Studies, placing South Asian Americans and South Asian nations at the center of our (inter)disciplinary inquiries, shift our understanding of the raced and gendered global economic order, of transnationality and diaspora, of the post 9/11-COVID era, of Asian American Studies?

We invite Asian American Studies practitioners, scholars, teachers, artists, activists and beyond to engage broadly with questions of inclusion/exclusion, examining a series of topics including, but not limited to:

Rethinking 1968 and the Rise of “Asian American”

Asian American Studies Then and Now

On Presentism and Futuricity

The Historical Imagination

The Social Scientific Imagination & Methodology

Disciplines: Multi-, Inter-, and Trans-disciplinarity

The Model Minority and its Discontents

The Racialized “Foreigner”: The Terrorist, the Temptress, the Virus, the Competition, the Empire

The Racialization of 9/11 and Covid: Comparisons

Caste and Asian America

Meditations on the Atlanta and Sikh American Massacres

Ranking Oppressions or Contextualizing/Interrelating Oppressions

How the Global & Transnational relate to Asian “America”

Centering/Interrelating: South Asian/American Studies, Pacific Islander/Oceanic Studies, Southeast Asian/American Studies

On Critical Mental Health Studies, Disability Studies, Environmental Studies, Queer Studies

Nadia Kim, Program Co-Chair

Sameer Pandya, Program Co-Chair

Please note that ticket prices will double on March 1, 2024 at 12 pm PST

Registration is nonrefundable as per our policy.

Novel Digital Interactive Theater-based Intervention to Promote Empathy, Mental, and Emotional Wellbeing Among AANHPI Communities

Yale Compassionate Home, Action Together (CHATogether) is a novel community-based digital program that promotes empathy and emotional wellness through interactive theater (Song J, 2022). Using interactive theater adopted from the Theater of Oppressed, we aim to promote empathy and communication skills among AANHPI children, adolescents, and families.

Components of the Yale CHATogether program will be introduced. Participants will learn about the five stages of skit production including topic identification/collaborators, scene planning, improvisation, writing, and community engagement. We will also share our qualitative study to measure impacts of theater-based intervention in AANHPI communities.

We will live perform a theatrical vignette depicting challenging communication within AANHPI family. First, the problematic scenario will be presented. Second, a child psychiatrist will provide moderation to process and to mentalize the perspectives of teen and parent. Third, actors re-do the scenario after incorporating more effective communication skills leading to a modified outcome. With facilitator guidance, audience will then divided into breakout room to meet and share their experiences related to the skit.

What will participants learn?

  • Participants will learn about components of Yale CHATogether and the five stages of theater production.
  • Participants will learn about skills in parenting, communication, and relational well-being tailored towards AANHPI families.
  • Participants will learn about resources in culturally informed mental health care in AANHPI.

Who should attend?

  • General populations, especially for parents.
  • Educators.
  • Mental health providers working with AANHPI individuals.

REPLAY

This event has passed. You can watch the replay on our YouTube, or here on the website.


QUESTIONS FROM THE CHAT

There were many questions asked during the workshop, and the replies to those answers are provided below from the presenters. PLEASE NOTE: the answers below do not serve as medical or psychiatric advice. The audience should seek help directly from your local professional providers.

When you do the theatre, do you do only one scene or several scenes?
Since its inception, CHATogether has created 26 skit videos shared on Youtube. Each video tailored towards different scenes and mental health topic in the family. Sharing the Youtube channel here:
https://www.youtube.com/@compassionatehomeactiontog1212/videos

What to do if the person with mental problem doesn’t want to seek help?
This depends on the severity of the mental health. If it is not a psychiatric crisis, caregivers may provide a non-judgmental approach to actively listen to and understand the person’s needs. “Not motivated to get help” could be a sign or symptom of depression, rather than a behavior or attitude that is commonly misunderstood.

Who is your audience when you do the Forum Theatre? Are these providers? Or community people?

Our CHATogether community events outreach to a wide range of audience, including community parents/caregivers, educators, youth (teens and college students), church goers, and interprofessional mental health providers.

How do you identify a mental illness?

Diagnosing mental health condition takes a series of professional assessments from a bio-psycho-social-cultural perspectives. Using clinical psychologists and psychiatrists will make a diagnosis after a thorough assessment. Correct diagnosis is critical to guide treatment recommendations.


Workshop Presenters

Dr. Eunice Yuen is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Yale New Haven Hospital, and at the Parent and Family Development Program at the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Yuen grew up in Hong Kong and is now a mother of two Asian American children, and she is the Founder and Director of CHATogether at Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Yuen is the Principal Investigator of the Acting Together Program.”

Peggy O. Wong is a second-generation Asian American who is pursuing her MSN in psychiatric-mental health at Yale School of Nursing. She recently completed a yearlong APRN internship at the West Haven VA Medical Center, and is now completing her final year of training at the Yale Child Study Center in Outpatient Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is interested in Immigrant and Minority mental health and to better understand the cultural variations in the prevalence, presentation, and treatment of psychiatric disorders.

Evelyn Kim is currently a high school junior at Choate Rosemary Hall. A dedicated participant in theater, she acts, directs, and writes plays. As a second-generation Korean American, she hopes to promote awareness for and aid the de-stigmatization of mental health for AAPI families through Yale CHATogether. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering for local Connecticut food banks and reading screenplays.

Skylar Luu is a fourth-year medical student at Albany Medical College in Albany, NY. Previously, she received her B.S. in Neuroscience in 2019 from Johns Hopkins University. She is applying for a psychiatry residency position this cycle, with interests in child and adolescent psychiatry and public psychiatry. She serves on National APAMSA as a Region 1 Director, with a passion for promoting the health of the AANHPI community.

Vicky Wang, B.S., is a fourth-year medical student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She is currently applying into psychiatry for the 2023-2024 cycle. At Vanderbilt, Vicky serves as the Co-President of APAMSA (Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association) for the second consecutive year. She is passionate and actively involved in numerous other initiatives focused on wellness, mentorship, and education.

Feiran Zhang is a postgraduate associate in the Child Study Center at Yale University, focusing on the mental health and well-being of children and caregivers in early education settings. She graduated from Columbia University in the summer of 2022 with a double master’s degree in counseling psychology. Before joining the YCSC team, she worked in the Bullying Prevention and Mental Health Promotion Lab at the University of Maryland intending to understand families’ unique experiences and ultimately promote Asian American teens and their families’ resilience and success.

References:
Song JE, Ngo NT, Vigneron JG, Lee A, Sust S, Martin A, Yuen EY. CHATogether: a novel digital program to promote Asian American Pacific Islander mental health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2022 Sep 23;16(1):76. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36151549/

Severe Mental Illness and Dismantling Mental Health Barriers: Culturally Responsive Strategies for Supporting Asian Americans

This workshop will present a detailed description of severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia spectrum disorders and review their impact and current findings among Asian American individuals and families. An in-depth discussion of prevalent barriers to mental healthcare among Asian American communities will be provided, such as mental health stigma and misinformation. Prevailing myths and misconceptions about schizophrenia, psychotropic medications, and psychotherapy will be explored and reviewed. Strategies will be provided on micro, mezzo, and macro levels for behavioral health practitioners, clinical social workers, community advocates, academic researchers, and family members and loved ones regarding supporting Asian American individuals with severe mental illness and de-stigmatizing mental health at large. Techniques for treatment engagement, initiating and receiving services, contributing to community anti-stigma efforts, and other suggestions for engaging with Asian American clients on multiple levels in social work practice will be provided.
What will participants learn?

  • Detailed overview and information about severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia spectrum disorders
  • Exploration of prevalent barriers to mental healthcare such as mental health stigma and their impact on Asian American communities
  • Myths and misconceptions about prevailing stereotypes and misinformation about severe mental illness, psychotropic medication, and psychotherapy
  • Strategies for building trust and engaging with Asian American clients with severe mental illness in therapy, including for clients with anosognosia (lack of insight)
  • Suggestions for supporting Asian American families impacted by severe mental illness on community, research, and organizational levels
  • Resources for schizophrenia spectrum disorders

Who should attend?

  • Behavioral health providers, professionals, and trainees
  • Asian American social workers and community leaders
  • Community members interested in learning more about mental health
  • Asian American local and community-based organizations
  • Academic researchers and scholars interested in areas of Asian diaspora mental health
  • Family members, friends, and colleagues who may know someone impacted by severe mental illness

DOWNLOADS & REPLAY

This event has passed. You can watch the replay on our YouTube, or here on the website.


Workshop Presenters

Juliann Li Verdugo (she/her) is a licensed clinical social worker and a trilingual first-generation Chinese American from San Diego, California. She is currently a Ph.D. student studying social welfare at the University of Washington, focusing on research areas of racial and ethnic health disparities, Asian American and Latinx mental health, severe mental illness, and culturally responsive service delivery.

 

Juliann received a Bachelor of Science in clinical psychology from the University of California at San Diego (2017) and a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan (2019). She has led and contributed to various research projects focused on topics including schizophrenia spectrum disorders, psychosis, caregivers of individuals with severe mental illness, and intervention development and testing.

 

Prior to starting her doctoral education, Juliann worked for over 3 years as a clinician with a group practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan, providing outpatient psychotherapy services to adults of color. She also served as the project coordinator for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded grant conducting community-based participatory research on suicide prevention for adults with schizophrenia in a community mental health setting.

 

On a personal level, Juliann loves traveling, walking in nature, playing video games such as The Legend of Zelda, and spending time with her husky Strider. She is excited to collaborate with the ‘Ohana team and looks forward to her future work with Asian diaspora organizations and communities.

Culturally Adapted Depression Assessment for Chinese Americans: How to Reduce Mental Health Disparities and Improve Access to Care

The workshop will cover culturally based symptom expressions for depression, including psychological, somatic, and interpersonal symptoms, used by Chinese American adolescents, adults, and older adults and how healthcare and community providers can better detect depression and engage clients with mental health care. The workshop showcases educational videos and symptom checklists developed by the San Francisco Bay Area Chinese Community Depression Education Project. The project used a community-based participatory approach to develop culturally sensitive tools to address disparities in mental health and access to services. While the assessment and educational tools were developed for a Chinese-speaking population, they are also applicable to other communities.

What will you learn in this workshop?

• Articulate a Chinese culture-based construct of depression with three dimensions—psychological, somatic and interpersonal;
• Articulate Chinese culture-specific expressions of depressive distress used by Chinese Americans;
• Articulate how you can integrate culturally sensitive depression assessment and educational tools into your professional practice and social services with Chinese speaking patients/clients;
• Recognize differences in the differential endorsement of depressive symptoms based on level of acculturation to U.S. society, gender, education, and other factors.

Who is this workshop for?

• Behavioral health care providers who work with Asian American communities.
• Members of Asian American community-based organizations.
• Asian American individuals and those who support them.


DOWNLOADS & REPLAY

This event has passed. You can watch the replay on our YouTube, or here on the website.


Workshop Presenters

Rose Wong is the Director of Social Work at Palo Alto University, where she is starting a master of social work (MSW) program with a specialization in culturally informed behavioral health. Prior to this position, she served as associate professor and department chair of social work at California State University East Bay and as founding director of the MSW program at University of the Pacific. Before earning her master’s and doctoral degrees in social welfare from UC Berkeley, she studied public and international affairs at Princeton University and public administration and psychology in universities in France.

In Dr. Wong’s research, she teams up with community professionals to develop culturally sensitive mental health educational materials in Chinese language, including brochures with symptom checklists and videos for use by professionals and community members. Dr. Wong’s practice experience in the Asian American immigrant community includes counseling for children and families who experienced domestic violence and supporting the implementation of integrated care treatment programs for older adults with depression. In 2022, Dr. Wong published a book entitled, Which Evidence-Based Practice Should I Use?: A Social Worker’s Handbook for Decision Making.

Addressing Racial Trauma among Asian American Men through Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) – Part II

This two-part workshop series aims to address the critical but neglected issue of race-based trauma among Asian American men particularly of East Asian origin such as Korea, Japan, and China. It will suggest some practical strategies to promote wellness and empowerment using the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a non-pathologizing approach to therapy and skills building that emphasizes mindful acceptance and meaningful action rather than symptom reduction. This approach, alternatively known as Acceptance and Commitment Training, can also be utilized in non-clinical settings (e.g., church, temple) by practitioners who are not necessarily therapists (e.g., ministers, coaches, etc.)

Acceptance and Commitment Training is very compatible with indigenous Asian wellness practices such as mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion/wisdom traditions and can be well-suited for individuals who are less likely to seek mental health services due to stigma. When used in conjunction with communal support within an intersectional framework, ACT can be an effective approach for addressing racial trauma among Asian American men.


Who is this workshop series for?

This workshop series is for anyone interested in addressing racial trauma. You do not need to be a therapist nor an Asian American man. This workshop can benefit coaches, ministers, community organizers, healthcare workers, researchers, and anyone interested in understanding and dealing with racial trauma within an Asian American context.


Format of the workshop series:

This workshop series will utilize a qualitative method known as autoethnography and will include a case presentation using the presenter’s own lived experience with racial trauma.


What you will learn in Part II (September, 26, 2023)**  of this workshop: 

  • Understand how the six processes of ACT can mitigate hurtful racial stereotypes
  • Learn a simple way to implement ACT skills tailored for Asian American men
  • Explore ways to use ACT as a supplement to indigenous Asian practices and cross cultural community-building

**Important: For those who have not attended Part I (August 29, 2023) of this series, it may be helpful to watch the recording of that session prior to attending Part II.


This event has passed. You can watch the replay on our YouTube, or here on the website.


Workshop Presenters

Phillip Cha, MFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years in community mental health. He holds the position of clinical supervisor at UCSF Citywide Case Management where he oversees and guides the work of intensive case management within a culture-focused milieu.

In addition, Phillip maintains a part-time private practice in San Francisco where he provides therapy services to individuals, couples, and families specializing in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a therapeutic approach that focuses on mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based action.

Phillip’s expertise in ACT has led him to offer training and consultation internationally with mental health professionals around the world. Phillip has been an adjunct faculty member at the Myanmar Clinical Psychology Consortium from 2018 to 2022.

He is passionate about exploring ways in which contextual behavioral therapies can be applied across diverse communities and contexts and in ways that promote wellness and justice particularly for those who are marginalized.

Treating Asian Americans with CLAS (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services)

The Federal Office of Minority Health developed 15 standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS), which represent a “gold standard” for providing culturally responsive care. This training will introduce the national CLAS standards as a framework for providing responsive, respectful and equitable behavioral health care for Asian Americans. Following the training, participants will be able to summarize the main themes and purpose of the national CLAS standards, and articulate practical steps towards implementing concepts and principles of the CLAS standards to serve Asian American clients.


This event has passed. You can watch the replay on our YouTube, or here on the website.


Workshop Presenters

Michael Liao’s career in social work has spanned various settings—including child welfare, domestic violence prevention, supervised visitation, mental health, and substance abuse treatment.  Michael is currently the Director of Programs for NICOS Chinese Health Coalition. Since 2004, Michael has been providing cultural responsiveness training on a wide range of topics including implicit bias and widening our personal lens, cross-cultural communications, Asian American cultural issues, LGBTQ+ issues, and anti-oppressive practices, for a wide variety of audiences.

Addressing Racial Trauma among Asian American Men through Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) – Part 1

This two-part workshop series aims to address the critical but neglected issue of race-based trauma among Asian American men particularly of East Asian origin such as Korea, Japan, and China.  It will suggest some practical strategies to promote wellness and empowerment using the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a non-pathologizing approach to therapy and skills building that emphasizes mindful acceptance and meaningful action rather than symptom reduction. This approach, alternatively known as Acceptance and Commitment Training, can also be utilized in non-clinical settings (e.g., church, temple) by practitioners who are not necessarily therapists (e.g., ministers, coaches, etc.)

Acceptance and Commitment Training is very compatible with indigenous Asian wellness practices such as mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion/wisdom traditions and can be well-suited for individuals who are less likely to seek mental health services due to stigma. When used in conjunction with communal support within an intersectional framework, ACT can be an effective approach for addressing racial trauma among Asian American men.


Who is this workshop series for?

This workshop series is for anyone interested in addressing racial trauma. You do not need to be a therapist nor an Asian American man.  This workshop can benefit coaches, ministers, community organizers, healthcare workers, researchers, and anyone interested in understanding and dealing with racial trauma within an Asian American context.


Format of the workshop series:

This workshop series will utilize a qualitative method known as autoethnography and will include a case presentation using the presenter’s own lived experience with racial trauma.


What you will learn in Part 1 (August, 29, 2023)  of this workshop:

  • Understand the basic components of racial trauma among Asian American men
  • Explore the role of language in perpetuating dangerous stereotypes
  • Learn about the six ways that individuals internalize racial trauma from a language-based (ACT) perspective

This event has passed. You can watch the replay on our YouTube, or here on the website.

download the slides here


Workshop Presenters

Phillip Cha, MFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years in community mental health. He holds the position of clinical supervisor at UCSF Citywide Case Management where he oversees and guides the work of intensive case management within a culture-focused milieu.

In addition, Phillip maintains a part-time private practice in San Francisco where he provides therapy services to individuals, couples, and families specializing in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a therapeutic approach that focuses on mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based action.

Phillip’s expertise in ACT has led him to offer training and consultation internationally with mental health professionals around the world. Phillip has been an adjunct faculty member at the Myanmar Clinical Psychology Consortium from 2018 to 2022.

He is passionate about exploring ways in which contextual behavioral therapies can be applied across diverse communities and contexts and in ways that promote wellness and justice particularly for those who are marginalized.

Caregiving Experience Among Asian American Families of Individuals with Serious Mental Illnesses

Family caregivers of Individuals living with a serious mental illness (SMI) play a critical role in the lives of people with SMIs because family members are known to be the first persons to recognize the onset, symptoms, or re-emergence of mental illness; therefore, family members can be considered key initiators and facilitators of treatment and recovery. While there are positive aspects of caregiving, the trajectory and dynamic features of caregiving over time often also negatively impact the caregivers’ mental health. Consequently, these caregivers report substantially higher caregiving distress than caregivers of non-psychiatric patients. Caregiving challenges are compounded among Asian Americans due to additional factors such as cultural values (e.g., stigma regarding SMI), and/or structural barriers related to acculturation (i.e., unfamiliarity with systems, language barriers). Asian Americans with SMIs, in contrast to other ethnic groups, are more likely to reside with family and less likely to utilize mental health services, oftentimes leading to substantial daily life challenges for caregivers. However, there is very little information available on Asian American caregivers of people with a SMI. As a result, insights about how to develop a mental health intervention and prevention program targeted toward FCs within an Asian cultural context are significantly lacking.

The workshop will focus on Chinese American and Vietnamese American family caregivers. The goal is to explore how cultural factors influence the experiences of Asian American family caregivers who take care of individuals with SMI. Additionally, the workshop will explore the factors that contribute to their well-being. It is essential to recognize that these caregivers are also at risk of developing mental health issues themselves. By gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by Asian American family caregivers and the factors that promote well-being, behavioral health professionals can better support them in their roles. The behavioral health agencies and practitioners can then create intervention programs that promote self-care practices among caregivers. This workshop will focus on Chinese American and Vietnamese American family caregivers.

 


What will you learn in this workshop?
• Caregiving experiences of Asian American family caregivers of people with serious mental illnesses within the Asian American cultural contexts.
• Understanding the risk factors that may pose a risk to the well-being of family caregivers.
• Exploring ways of promoting the well-being of family caregivers.
• Understanding the similarities and differences in the caregiving experiences of Chinese and Vietnamese Americans.

 


Who is this workshop for?
• Behavioral health care providers who work with Asian American communities.
• Members of Asian American community-based organizations.
• Asian American family caregivers of people with mental illnesses and those who support them.


This event has passed. You can watch the replay on our YouTube, or here on the website.


Workshop Presenters

Dr. Meekyung Han is a professor and co-chair of the Child Welfare Partnership for Training and Research at the School of Social Work at San José State University (SJSU). Originally from South Korea, Dr. Han pursued her master’s in social work (MSW) as an international graduate student pursuing her MSW at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After completing her master’s degree, she worked as a social worker in St. Louis before relocating to California to pursue a doctoral program in social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Following the completion of her Ph.D., she joined the faculty at SJSU.

Dr. Han’s research focuses primarily on mental health issues, family violence, and the impact of trauma, with a special emphasis on Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). In recent years, she has worked to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health disorders and provide support for caregivers of those with mental illnesses. Her scholarship has had a profound impact on addressing inequities and disparities within the mental health system. She has received numerous awards in recognition of her extensive scholarly work and contributions to understanding mental health issues.

Her academic pursuits are deeply rooted in the Transcultural Perspective (TCP) framework which prioritizes diversity, human well-being, and social justice. She incorporates a TCP perspective into every step of her scholarly work. Dr. Han is also a dedicated educator who integrates her scholarship and the TCP framework into her teaching to enhance students’ learning experiences. In recent years, she has received multiple honors and awards, including the Senior Excellence Scholarly Award for her excellent scholarship and an award from the National Association of Social Workers South Bay Chapter for her exceptional teaching.

As demonstrated by her extensive research, Dr. Han recognizes a pressing need within the AAPI community: a dearth of mental health resources and culturally and linguistically competent services. This realization fuels her deep sense of privilege and honor in joining the ‘Ohana CoE. As a part of the ‘Ohana CoE, Dr. Han is dedicated to expanding her contributions to the behavioral health field to advance the interests and well-being of AANHPI.

Introduction to Colorism in Asian American Communities

“Don’t go out in the sun or you’ll get too dark.” All too often, Asian Americans encounter such messaging from family and community members. This workshop will define colorism and explore its significance within the Asian American community. Topics will include: a brief history of colonialism and its impact on understanding of skin color, how colorism informs anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, and the popularity of skin lightening products and its lasting health impacts on individuals and communities.

Who is this workshop for?

  • Behavioral health care providers who work with Asian American communities.
  • Members of Asian American community-based organizations.
  • Support staff in public schools and higher education institutions who work with Asian American students.
  • Asian American individuals and those who support them.

This event has passed. You can watch the replay on our YouTube, or here on the website.


Workshop Presenters

Hello! I am Dr. Joanne L. Rondilla and I’m an honored to serve on the team that is organizing the AANHPI Ohana Center of Excellence. As a daughter of Filipino immigrants, I was born and raised on Guam. This project means the world to me because at a young age, someone dear to me suffered from depression and eventually took their own life. Growing up, I did not have the education or awareness of mental health issues, or how this experience would impact me well into adulthood. This is among many of the motivations behind participating in this work.

In addition to this project, I am an assistant professor of Asian American Studies and Sociology at San Jose State University. Recently, I served as a Public Voices fellow at The OpEd Project. An award-winning educator, I am the co-author of Is Lighter Better?: Skin Tone Discrimination Among Asian Americans and co-editor of Red & Yellow, Black & Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies. My research interests include colorism, popular culture, and media representations.