United Chinese Americans UCA Illinois Chapter is the first chapter of UCA, a nationwide nonprofit and nonpartisan federation and a community civic movement, inspired and dedicated to enriching and empowering Chinese American communities through civic engagement, political participation, heritage sharing, and youth development. UCA has 10 chapters and 40 community partners nation wide. UCA IL is a completely volunteer run organization consisting of the most passionate and beautiful members who are determined to make our world a better place by serving our community.
For the past three years, UCA has worked with Chinese American community with thousands of community members. One of the most urgent issues expressed by parents and community members is youth mental health. This concern is validated by observed students experiences and behaviors. Due to cultural expectations, identity issues, low health literacy about mental health, stigma against mental health, and social isolation, Chinese/Asian American youth are suffering “silently” with mental illness and emotional stress. Insufficient support from families and their community, as well as lack of available Chinese speaking mental health professionals, further contributes to the problem.
UCA IL is a very important part of the Youth Mental Health collaborative to promote mental health awareness, and was awarded the three year Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar Grant to a team of four fellows with our UCA IL board chair Jian (Lily) Chen as the project director. UCA IL organized two mental health webinars in 2020 in response to Naperville community’s needs from the lost of a young Kennedy student. Three of the UCA IL members became certified Mental Health First Aid MHFA instructors recently, and will conduct virtual trainings to parents and community members in 2021 to increase mental health awareness, decrease stigma, and increase use of professional services.
Working with UCA IL board member Ren Li and her organization cornerstone education, UCA IL also helped organize multiple PPE donation drives during the pandemic, donating PPEs in the amount of $241, 559 across Chicagoland, including to Bolingbrook Christian Clinics who serve the underserved. The Illinois chapter was also part of the UCA Food of Love charitable giving campaign sending warm food to fire firefighters and seniors.
Lily Chen, President/CEO