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Chia-Chia Chien, MSW, MPH

 

As founder of the Culture to Culture Foundation, Chien has developed innovative programs for Asian American families, which have significantly decreased stigmas in the community toward mental health services in Northern California.

Pioneering Contributions
During her decades' long practice in psychiatric social work and community mental health, Chien saw the harmful impacts on Chinese immigrants and their families who needed urgent help but were not getting it due to social stigmas.

In 2001, she founded the Culture to Culture Foundation, which supports mental health services and anti-stigma activities. Chien has created multiple, culturally-relevant mental health programs, including the Chinese American Mental Health Network, the Chinese American Mental Health Suicide Hotline, the Contra Consta Chinese American Helpline, and the Asian American Mental Health Directory and website. Also, she helped create senior services including the Contra Costa Chinese American Senior Center and the Chinese American Healthy Living Center.

Career Highlights
San Francisco's first Asian psychiatric social worker, Chien developed multiple, innovative responses to increase awareness and to decrease stigmas regarding mental health services in Northern California, as evidenced in the creation of, and leadership in, the organizations listed under "Pioneering Contributions."

Facing a population facing schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, suicidal tendencies, Chien worked hard to produce positive, measurable results for this at-risk San Francisco community. Reducing the number of suicidal Asian American women was paramount, since they had the highest suicide rate among women over 65 in the U.S. Also, she committed herself to increasing the number of bilingual and bicultural mental health professionals in the Bay Area. Her Culture to Culture series of seminars, throughout the Bay Area, involved panels of bilingual experts, and had the support of the Chinese media, allowing her to reach large segments of the population. Instead of labeling programs as "mental health" related, she invited Contra Costa seniors to participate in free exercise classes, mahjong, and other activities organized by Chien and her corps of volunteers.

Getting rid of stigmas for Chien meant helping the younger generation of Asian Americans understand the positives of mental health programs as well. She addressed this by creating contests and awards to promote mental health awareness among teens: for example, through the Mental Health Essay Contest and "Mental Health Warrior" Award, for students who have triumphed over mental illness. Scholarships are also provided to students pursuing mental health studies. Today immigrants from a number of countries benefit from her ongoing outreach programs through Culture to Culture.

Biographical Data
Originally from Taiwan, Chien earned her bachelor's in sociology from Tunghai University, where she did medical-social field work at a rural hospital. She received her MSW from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, while doing psychiatric social work at an Illinois hospital. From there, she accepted a position at the Berkeley School of Public Health's Mental Health Division in 1973. Still very active, and running her nonprofit from Alamo, California, Chien is retired as clinical practitioner.

Significant Achievements and Awards
Chien's work has led to awarding including: the 2005 Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from UC Berkeley; the NASW California Chapter for Lifetime Achievement (2009); 2008 Purpose Prize Fellowship; and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's School of Social Work for community achievement in 2013.

In addition to her social work, Chien is recognized in her community as an advocate for the preservation of the Angel Island immigration station, where generations of Chinese immigrants were detained. She was recognized by then Senator Hillary Clinton for this work.

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