Chinatown Mental Health Initiative

Alice Yu

Miss Asian Chicago 2023 Queen and Talent


“To give our children the help they need and deserve.”


A mental health curriculum was designed to target parents in Chinatown. We hope that teaching parents how to talk to their children about mental health will lead to better mental health in Chinese youth.

  • Videos on mental health in Asians and Asian Americans with guided reflections
  • Lecture on anxiety, depression, and suicidality in Asian youth
  • Simulations to practice initiating and holding conversations about mental health between parents and children


A diverse, multi-disciplinary team created this curriculum

  • Primary Care Pediatricians designed the curriculum
  • Medical students helped create the curriculum content
  • Psychologists and Psychiatrists reviewed the curriculum and will lead the workshops
  • Social Workers contributed to curriculum content


  • Over 100 hours of curriculum development
  • Presented at an educational conference at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
  • 32 parents participating via Project Vision
  • $7000 raised in grant funding

The Story behind the Initiative

As a resident physician, I have seen times where children themselves have insight into their need for mental health help, but parental stigma against mental health serves as a barrier to accessing that care. Though this happens across all races, I am acutely attuned to the conflict among Asian patients – perhaps because I see my own childhood in those situations. Indeed, studies have shown Chinese-Americans experience increased rates of internalizing problems, but also decreased parent ability to identify anxiety and depression as mental health issues. This disconnect may lead youth to feel unsupported in discussing mental health with parents, creating unintended barriers to seek mental health support. These findings point to a crucial need to develop culturally-relevant and community-engaged approaches to engaging Chinese families with children.

Chicago’s Chinatown population has more than doubled over the past three decades, creating a robust collection of families who may benefit from more open discussions surrounding mental health. With the goal to normalize mental health discussions in local Chinese populations, I have partnered with Project Vision, a well-established local non-profit, serving low-income Chicago Chinatown youth and their parents for 20 years. A key program in their services include a Parent Mentor Program (PMP), a curriculum to empower parents to support their community. I propose an educational workshop to dovetail on their PMP program with the ultimate goal of improving communication between parents and their children about mental health.