This press release is reprinted with permission from Professional Risk Management Services.
Eunice Yuen, MD, PhD, a member of the Albert J. Solnit Integrated Training Program at Yale, has been named the first recipient of a Professional Risk Management Services (PRMS)-endowed fellowship in collaboration with the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), a think tank of leading psychiatric minds.
Yuen is interested in cross-generational cultural issues in parent-child relationships and how they may influence child development and emotional well-being. She ultimately hopes to focus on cultural psychiatry and how the experiences of international immigrants and refugees affect their mental health.
She immigrated alone from Hong Kong to the U.S. at the age of 16 to attend high school in Orlando. She had no friends or family in the U.S., and her closest relatives were in Canada. Yuen said her background, along with identity issues and other challenges she faced, have fueled her desire to fully understand acculturative stress and related mental health issues in vulnerable individuals.
“It kind of shaped me and made me so passionate about this area,” Yuen said. “I want to better understand the adaptation that an immigrant undergoes coming to a totally brand-new environment and trying to survive and strive, because that can be really challenging, especially with the current political climate and everyone talking about immigration.”
Yuen is a fifth-year fellow in the Albert J. Solnit Integrated Training Program in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Research at the Yale Department of Psychiatry and Yale Child Study Center. Her neuroscience PhD research focused on cellular and molecular mechanisms of emotional stress in the brain and how emotional stress affects mental health. After joining Yale’s residency program, Yuen examined the role of prenatal stress and substance use in human fetal brain models and human-derived stem cells.
As an emotional wellness consultant at the Yale Asian American Cultural Center, she holds seminars and forum discussions on wellness, depression, and suicide prevention for Asian-American students, international research scholars and their families.
Yuen said her GAP committee is working on a book on the strengths-based therapeutic approach to adolescent mental health treatment. Instead of interacting with the patient by looking at deficits they come in with, such as depression or anxiety symptoms and “how much they cannot do,” this is a patient-centered approach that focuses on helping the person identify their strengths and what they’re good at, such as sports or the arts, and adopting a more motivational-style approach “to help them understand or identify hope,” Yuen said.
For example, if a teenager says she loves art, a clinician might design a collaborative therapy in which the child could be guided to use art to help address her feelings. “From there, you often can help the patient realize that they have hope and to think about their future and focus on their strengths and what they want to achieve in their life rather than simply treating their symptoms of depression or anxiety,” Yuen said.
Yuen said the book will also include a chapter on how a strengths-based approach could be applied to younger international refugees and immigrants facing mental health issues. “It’s such an amazing group of people – we are all trying to work together to make a better life for kids and families,” Yuen said.
When she is not working, Yuen enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with her husband and two sons. She is looking forward to continue working with her GAP committee as the first PRMS Fellow in Child Psychiatry for GAP.
PRMS endowed the Child Psychiatry Fellowship in 2017 with GAP, whose analysis and recommendations have served to influence and advance modern psychiatric theory and practice. GAP has more than 300 members in the U.S. and Canada. Its committees focus on major issues and fields in psychiatry and publish content and research findings on pressing issues.
“Our organization is very grateful to PRMS for its support and for valuing what we do,” said GAP President Larry Gross, MD. “Our working committees tackle important issues facing the field. GAP fellows are a lifeblood of the organization and are often catalysts for what goes on in the committee. Our goal is to recognize residents such as Dr. Yuen who see the big picture, have leadership potential and will hopefully become future leaders in the field.”
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