U.S. Mental Health Service Training held at NYU Shanghai

NYU-ECNU Institute for Social Development at NYU Shanghai, co-sponsored with Shanghai Social Worker Association and the Social Work Department at East China Normal University (ECNU), hosted a two-day intensive training workshop on U.S. Mental Health Services on May 23th – 24th, 2015. This is the third workshop on social work professional development that the Institute has launched this year. Dr. Teddy Chen, the Director of Mental Health Bridge Program at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in New York City, provided the training and shared his experience in delivering mental health services to the Chinese American community. Professional social workers from diverse social service agencies in Shanghai as well as master students majoring in Social Work attended the workshop.

As a New York State licensed clinical social worker, as well as a founding member in establishing the Bridge Program, a nationally recognized model program integrating mental health and primary health care services, Dr. Chen is dedicated to advocating and improving access to mental health services for Asian Americans. Under the leadership of Dr. Chen, the Bridge Program’s service has grown more than 10 folds since its inception in 1998.

During the two-day workshop, the essential components of U.S. Mental Health Services system was introduced and discussed. Dr. Chen introduced the U.S. mental health system to the audience by explaining brief history, epidemiology, existing issues and challenges, DSM diagnostic system, and the separation and integration of health and mental health system. Dr. Chen also talked about how social workers function as a major provider in this system, training and licensure for clinical social workers and social work’s biopsychosocial based perspectives. Participants were particularly interested in the roles and functions of social workers in contemporary China and how the current cohorts of pioneers in social work professional fields may take on the responsibilities in shaping the important and essential roles for Social Workers in the Mental Health field. Last but not least, Dr. Chen shared a great amount of practical knowledge and experience in working with people suffering from various mental disorders, such as Depression, Anxiety, Psychotic Disorder, Suicide, and Substance Abuse along with popular treatment models and techniques that can be used in the field. The participants, working in various areas, such as hospitals, local communities, and criminal justice system, also brought their own clinical examples to the discussion that enriched the exchanges of knowledge and skills among participants. Workshop participants have uniformly expressed after the workshop the great importance of having such an opportunity to learn from the U.S. mental health service system, the insights and nuances the training has brought for their future practice, and the helpfulness it was to enhance their own confidence in delivering social services to the vulnerable populations in this society.