April 20, 2012
Stigma has been the primary barrier that prevents Chinese Americans from seeking the mental health services they need. Countless volunteers have been selflessly devoting their time helping patients/families recovering from mental illness. In order to acknowledge volunteers who have made extraordinary contributions, Culture to Culture Foundation is pleased to sponser its first Chinese American Mental Health Volunteer "Pushing Hands" Award. It is hoped that the volunteer's heart-felt stories can inspired many others to follow their footsteps. Through such activities, we are hoping to call attention to the importance of mental health issues, to reduce cultural stigma, and to instigate hope on individuals and families who are suffering from a mental or emotional condition.
To acknowledge volunteers who have devoted their time to help patients/families recovering from mental illness
You may nominate yourself or someone you know who has touched someone else's life or made a significant impact in the field of mental health through his or hers volunteer work. He or she can be anyone from your family, friend circles, health care providers, or care takers.
Please submit a short essay about yourself or your nominee of no more than 1000 words to email@example.com
June 30, 2012
September 12, 2012
At the Shadelands Art Center, the winners of the 2012 Chinese American Mental Health Volunteer "Pushing Hands" Award were announced. This announcement came along with the announcement of the 2012 senior volunteer award nominees and winners.
"Hello, my name is Chiao-Wen Chen, and I majored in Pharmacy and then received my doctor degree in Pharmaceutical toxicology. I Started to explore the field of mental health and participated in NAMI trainings because my church friend was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. At that time, my church sisters and I wanted to help her with her illness, but we didn't know how. As such, I enrolled myself into the NAMI family-to-family (F2F) education classes, and later was trained as a facilitator for the NAMI family support group and as a teacher for the F2F classes. Afterwards, I started helping out individuals with mental illness and their family members. The experiences that I have gained by interacting with these people later became the core of my mental health ministry, which is sponsered by the church foundation. I have always had a strong passion to help those in need, no matter who they are and how difficult the situation is. My goal and mission are to reak the stigma of mental illness by advocating education and awareness of mental illness in the Chinese community. Not only that, but I also wish to provide care, love, and hope to the affected families. I am willing to invest all the time I get to ensure that everything is alright for those who have problems or issues. All I want to do is serve those who need serving and help."
Chih-Mei Jill Chen-Kuendig
"I am a therapist in the state of California. My background in clinical psychology includes over ten years at Momentum for Mental Health, where I worked as a counselor and manager. Prior to this I worked in a variety of mental health settings.
I am a compassionate and sincere counselor and I want to help people accomplish their goals.
My experience includes work with children, adolescents, adults, and their families. I am also certified as a domestic violence counselor, a specialist of ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), and a group facilitator for National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI).
I speak English, Taiwanese, and Mandarin, and I understand Japanese conversationally. I am married to a wonderful husband and have two children, a dog, and nine chickens."
Miss Chih-Mei Jill Chen-Kuendig is also one of the founders of NAMI San Jose for Chinese families. To promote the awareness of mental health in the Chinese American community, Ms. Chen served as speaker for Bay Area workshops. She has a passion for helping the Chinese community obtain a better understanding of mental health and treatment options; for promoting mutual support and solidarity; and for removing the sahem and stigma associated with mental illness. Her goal is to see patients and their family members have an accurate perception of their mental health, gain control over their life, and finally find self-acceptance, self-esteem, and fulfillment.
"I joined NAMI through Jen Hong. He invited me to join his support group. I wanted to share my recovery story with fellow consumers with hope that they too will place their faith in Christ and get the help I am getting by trusting in Him. Then Jen started to teach NAMI's Family to Family class. I thought that is a good way to educate the families and consumers about mental health. And, I wanted to do away with the stigma that goes with the illness. I want to let people know that we can live a normal life and work in spite of our illness. These I think can get across to the general public through NAMI's activities.
I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in October, 1970. In retrospect, I had shown symptoms of schizophrenia in the 1960s. I suspected people were constantly talking about me. Eventually, this cost me my chance to finish medical school. However, I was able to obtain a M.A. in Microbiology. I barely worked in one of the U.C. campuses as a research technicial for a year when schizophrenia overtook me, and I was hospitalized. My father came to the U.S. to be with me, and later took me back to Hong Kong. There, a psychiatrist found the right kind and the right dosage of medication for me. I then taught in a college in Hong Kong for three years. I cae back to the Bay Area looking for jobs and had my first relapse as I stopped taking my medication. I came to believe in the healing power of Jesus Christ after this. I came and went between the Bay Area and Hong Kong for a few years. Finally I decided to come back to the Bay Area for good. Here, I had worked as a waitress, a real estate sales agent, and as clerk in a bank. Finally, I got a job as an entry level assistant in a Biotech Company. I got lay-off twice because the companies lost contracts. Through prayers of my church friends, I got jobs within three months with better pay and position. I worked for more than nine years in the last company as research associate before I retired.
I am still taking psychiatric medication as a "brain vitamin". My relapses taught me that I should keep on taking medication to stay well. Medication gives side effects, which affected me when I had to work, but with prayers, I was able to overcome them after I yielded to Jesus' advice to forgive all the hurts of the past. Now, if I don't tell, nobody would know that I am a schizophrenic."
Jen D. Hong
"My name is Jen D. Hong. I had worked in High-tech industry for 25 years and retired in 2002. My wife and I joined NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) family support group as family members and completed the NAMI Family to Family Education Class (12 weeks) in 2003. Feeling the need of Chinese community on Mental Health, I completed the NAMI Family Support Group Facilitator training and started the Chinese Family Support Group at Mountain View Chinese Christian Church and also taught NAMI family to family education class in Mandarin in 2005.
From the beginning of California MHSA (Mental Health Service Act) in 2006, I also had been a member of Santa Clara County ECCAC (Ethnic and Cultural Communities Advisory Committee) continued advocating and educating Chinese Community on Mental Health. I became the ECCAC Chinese coordinator in 2009 and co-received the Asian-American Hero Award, Santa Clara, CA in 2009. From 2010 - 2011, we got funding from MHSA and led a group to translate the NAMI Family to Family Education Class into Chinese and completed in June 2011. Currently, I am the President of NAMI Santa Clara County and Member of Santa Clara Country Mental Health Board.
My vision is to educate more Chinese family members to understand mental health, communicate better with their loved ones, form support teams, get proper treatment, and finally have a happy and fulfilling life for all people around."
"Dr. Gena Hu is a psychiatrist practicing in Kaiser. She have voluntary involved in Culture to Culture Foundation for more than five years. With her highly enthusiastic passion towards mental health education in the Chinese community, she has made significan contribution to the field in raising the awareness and destigmatizing of mental illness in local Chinese community.
Dr. Hu, MD has spent her precious spare time during the weekend to give multiple seminars in promoting the awareness of mental illness in Chinese community. She performed artistic Chinese folk dance in the Mental Health Warrior Award ceremony and in the Senior Volunteer Award ceremony, sponsered by Culture to Culture Foundation. In addition, she has always made herself available for consultation of mental health education issues to the Culture to Culture Foundation, including professional input to the drama play, being contest award committee and giving talks in Chinese Radio Station regarding Chinese mental illness issues.
Dr. Hi, MD's biggest contribution to the mental health in Chinese community is that she exemplifies what a professional mental health provider can give back to the Chinese community with such passion and generosity. We are truly fortunate to have Dr. Hu, MD to be part of our Chinese community." (Excerpt from Gena Hu's nomination letter)
"In the past 8 years, Dr. Lowe not only has dedicated herself to the cause of promoting mental health awareness in Chinese community, but also inspired others to be interested and involved in this meaningful cause. Dr. Lowe is a true trooper. She is the one of the volunteers first started in C to C. She has volunteered to give lectures on various mental illnesses to educate Chinese community about mental illness. She has given talks in work shops to promote awareness in recognizing the mental illness and reducing stigma of mental illness.
Influenced by her passion, I started to get involved as well. I am just one of the mental health professionals inspired by Dr. Lowe. She set a great example for others to follow.
Being her colleague for 5 years, I know Dr. Lowe as an outstanding psychiatrist well liked by her patients. She serves them with compassion and diligence. She has helped thousands of people to overcome mental illness and live a better life." (Excerpt from Xiu Lowe's nomination letter).
"Hello everyone, my name is Jeffery Pea and I'm an 12th grader at Lynbrook High School. My entrance to the mental health field stemmed from my personal experiences, for I have been being highly involved with many people who have mental illnesses. At school, I am part of a club named Viking Buddies, in which students interact with the special education students. I have invested a lot of time with these kids and I have really tried my best to be friend and comfort them. Also, I occasionally babysit a family friend's son who has severe autism. With these experiences, I wanted to really push forward and help those with mental illnesses. What influenced me to create a high school club on mental illness was my desire to allow people with these problems to be accepted into society, and not to be looked down upon.
I have always been intrigued mental illnesses, and I find that a lot of people don't understand them as well as they should. I don't think these problems as ones to be "mistreated" or "ignored", but rather ones that should be "understood" and "addressed". As such, I created Lynbrook NAMI, the high school chapter to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) program, which provides awareness for am ultiple of different mental illnesses, helping others understand the realities of these problems and prooting methods to aid affected individuals. Also, the club teaches people the correct steps to engage with individuals suffering from mental illnesses, providing the consumers with a promise of recovery and gratitude. From Bipolar Disorder to Schizophrenia, Lynbrook NAMI club incorporate. Not only do I want students to learn high priority of mental illness awareness in society, but I also want them to help those who may develop or have symptoms of these mental disorders. By gaining the backing of local NAMI support groups and communities, I have really been motivated to make a difference at school.
But there is nothing to boast about my contribution, for I am just a person trying to help the society by advocating education and awareness of mental illness at his high school. My passion, love, vision and dedication towards the special-need students and mentally ill individuals are al lthanks to the nurture of my family, the openness of my friends, and my desire to do what's right."