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.


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


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:

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.

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.

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


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.