Mental Health Listening Session

Tuesday, June 13th, 2023 | 6-7 PM | Zoom

Main Takeaways

  • Culturally and linguistically competent care is incredibly important, and is one of the largest barriers to AAPI communities accessing mental health care
  • It is critical to think of mental health and wellness comprehensively: systemic need is often the root cause of mental health issues
  • It is important to not generalize the AAPI community: the AAPI community is vast and diverse, and has varying needs

Program included: introductions, framing and group agreements, remarks from invited speakers, intentional listening, public comment, and sharing of resources.

Presenting Organizations and Individuals:

Invited Guests

  • Mabel Lam, Psychologist and former Commissioner

Presenter Bios

Chien-Chi Huang, Founder of Asian Women for Health

Chien-Chi Huang is the founder of Asian Breast Cancer Project and the former Executive Director of Asian Women for Health.

An immigrant from Taiwan and a breast cancer survivor turned advocate, Ms. Huang has spearheaded several health initiatives in Massachusetts, including the annual Asian American Mental Health Forum and the All of Us community engagement campaign. The Workforce Development Initiative trains those who are under or un-employed and finds them jobs as community health workers, providing an upstream solution to address the unique challenges facing the Asian community.

Both mainstream and Asian media outlets have featured Ms. Huang’s efforts and culturally responsive approach to reducing health disparities related to gambling addiction, mental health, women’s health, and cancers.

Motivated to lead through her cancer experience, Ms. Huang continues to participate in local, regional, and national efforts on health policy and research impacting the Asian community. Her passion for health equity and women empowerment has changed the healthcare landscape and created a pipeline of future Asian women leaders and peer health educators.

Dawn Sauma, MSW, LICSW, Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK)

Dawn Sauma, MSW, LICSW has been the Co-Executive Director and Clinical Director of the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK), for the past 12 years, overseeing direct services, collaborating with stakeholders and community partners, and authoring grants. She has worked in social services for over 30 years as a provider, educator, and administrator within mental health, crisis intervention, judicial, academic, and non-profit systems. Most of her work has been with underserved Asian and Pacific Islander (A & PI) communities in various settings and service delivery systems in Hawaii and Massachusetts. She is a Board Member and President-Elect, of Jane Doe Inc (JDI) the MA Coalition against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence; Community Co-Chair of ADAPT, Addressing Disparities in Asian Populations Through Translation Research; and a member of the Tufts CTSI Steering Committee. She is a bi-racial, half-Japanese, and half-white, advocate/activist raised in Hawaii. Her work blends personal and professional experience.

Heidi Hyunjin Lee, Harm Reduction Case Manager and Mental Health Advocate

Heidi HyunJin Lee, BFA, MEd, CPS (certified peer specialist), UMass Boston Addiction Counselor Education Program (LADC licensure candidate) is an artist, teacher, mental health activist, and mother to a beautifully spirited boy. 

She currently works as a harm reduction medical case manager for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. Heidi taught high school art in Boston for over a decade, then directed an art program for those experiencing homelessness called Common Art, where she guided artists of all ages battling the traumas of homelessness. 

This led her into outreach case management for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program where she now works with clients who teach her how to advocate effectively within a complex web of systems. 

As a CPS, Heidi wakes up each morning feeling honored and fiercely determined to serve those who are willing to share their journey battling homelessness, Substance Use Disorders, and mental health challenges so that they may reclaim their dignity and self determination. 

For self care, she practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a form of exposure therapy to conquer her complex ptsd and cooks massive amounts of food economically for those around her so that all hungry souls may be fed.

Aishwarya Chitoor, Saheli

Aishwarya Chitoor is a Clinical Social Worker with her master’s in Social Work from Boston College and bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Biology from Boston University. As an Indian-American woman, she works presently with clients from all backgrounds delivering individual therapy and is specifically interested in trauma and multiple identities issues. She also is currently working as a Prevention Specialist at Saheli and develops programming for youth to engage in issues that impact the community at large. Her experiences in inpatient, community-based, and hospital based settings have allowed her the opportunity to work with a diverse set of clients. In Aishwarya’s spare time, you can find her sewing, crafting, and exploring Boston.