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Yuen's CHATogether program helps AAPI families broach difficult topics, according to a new study

November 09, 2022

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eunice Yuen, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and in the Child Study Center, and student fellows founded Yale Compassionate Home, Action Together (CHATogether) in 2019. CHATogether’s mission is to break the silence against racism and the growing mental health crisis affecting adolescents, young adults, and families in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Three years since its inception, CHATogether includes members of the AAPI diaspora across cities, countries, and continents. The program includes six different creative modalities intended to address cross-cultural and cross-generational needs, as well as to promote mental health and wellbeing. The six components include interactive theaters, mental health education, research, community outreach, collaboration, and AAPI mentorship.

CHATogether’s work, along with a qualitative study to understand the therapeutic impacts of CHATogether on participating members, was recently published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. Leading authors include Yuen, Andrés S Martin, MD, PhD, Riva Ariella Ritvo Professor in the Child Study Center and professor of psychiatry and Steven Sust, MD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, as well as CHATogether members who are high school students, undergraduate students, and medical students. The findings suggest that through its methods of storytelling and creative digital theater, the CHATogether program facilitates the discussion of challenging topics specific to the AAPI community such as mental health, racial identity development, and challenges on child-parent relational conflicts.

Along with her colleagues and CHATogether members, Yuen also recently presented this work at the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Annual Conference Clinical Perspectives, titled “Bridging the Cultural Divide: The Creative Use of Digital Media to Engage Adolescents and Their Families Around Mental Health”.

“Witnessing the rise of health disparities in minority communities while the current health care system is failing short to meet children’s mental health crisis is alarming,” Yuen said. “CHATogether may serve as a model for a novel practice for children mental health by introducing storytelling to capture relatable narratives around culture and family and promoting a child-parent prevention intervention to promote mutual compassion during unprecedented times.”

Yuen is implementing CHATogether family intervention program in collaboration with Collaborating with colleagues at the Yale Bradford Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program, helping teens and parents to restore their connectedness and family mental health. Using a similar theater model, Yuen is expanding into medical education and leadership education in minority psychiatry trainees when facing cultural dilemma in clinical setting.

Submitted by Jordan Sisson on November 09, 2022