April 10-11, 2020

The Conference

This program has been indefinitely postponed due to new guidelines by the University of Chicago on campus health and safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Break the Silence is an Asian and Asian American mental health conference co-hosted by UChicago Taiwanese American Student Association, UChicago South Asian Students Association, Active Minds: University of Chicago Chapter, PanAsia Solidarity Coalition, and UChicago MannMukti.

Despite having a reported 17.3% overall lifetime rate of any psychiatric disorder, Asians and Asian Americans are about three times less likely to seek mental health services than Caucasians. Whether it be pressure to adhere to the “model minority” stereotype, family cultural values that stigmatize mental health, or even simply a lack of awareness of the resources and services available, the intersections between culture/identity and mental health remains an increasingly prevalent and pressing topic to discuss.

And now, we take action. Break the Silence is a two-day mental health conference, free to all UChicago students and community members who want to learn more about how aspects of Asian culture, identity, and social forces and expectations affect the way we perceive our own mental health, and that of our peers. This conference seeks to share the work of academic and community members, facilitate important conversations and discussions, and promote ways to leverage the resources available to us for our mental and emotional well-beings.



Keynote Speaker

Dr. Anna Lau

UCLA Department of Psychology

Dr. Anna Lau is a Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA in 2000 where she worked as a graduate student in the National Research Center on Asian American Mental Health with Dr. Stanley Sue.  After postdoctoral training at the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center at Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego, she returned to UCLA as a faculty member in 2003. Her current research spans across the areas of disparities in children’s mental health services, cultural variation in risk and protective factors for child psychopathology, and community implementation of evidence-based practices for ethnic minority youth and families. Dr. Lau’s work on risk

and protective factors for youth in Asian American immigrant families is informing efforts to implement school-based interventions for adolescents at risk of depression and suicide.  Dr. Lau’s ongoing research is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.  Dr. Lau also trains doctoral students in the use of evidence-based practices for youth, and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses related to Asian American Mental Health and the Psychology of Diversity.

Keynote: Getting Effective Mental Health Care to Asian American Students at Risk of Depression

The mental health needs of Asian American young people are frequently overlooked and undertreated.  This keynote will present research over the last 10 years shedding light on the stark disparities in mental health treatment for Asian American students and the apparent causes of these disparities.  It is clear that major community-based efforts are needed to close the gap between mental health need and the provision of effective and accessible care for Asian American youth. Dr. Lau will also present research that has identified and tested promising interventions to address common and pressing mental health problems among Asian American students.  In particular, she will focus on efforts to deliver evidence-based treatments to Asian American students in school settings. 

Dr. Ada Cheng

Storyteller and Performer

Dr. Ada Cheng is a professor-turned-storyteller, solo performer, and storytelling show producer. She performed her solo show NOT QUITE: Asian American by Law, Asian Woman by Desire as the keynote for Women and Girls in Georgia Conference in 2019. She has been featured in storytelling shows and done her two solo performances all over the country. She is the producer and the host of four storytelling shows, including Pour One Out, Am I Man Enough?, Talk Stories: An Asian American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show, and Speaking Truths Series. She creates platforms for people to tell difficult and vulnerable stories as well as spaces for people and communities who may not have opportunities otherwise. She currently works as the Education and Outreach Specialist

with Women’s Leadership and Resource Center at UIC, providing training on issues related to gender-based violence. Her interests span multiple fields, including academia, storytelling/performance art, and advocacy. Her motto: Make your life the best story you tell. Check out her website: www.renegadeadacheng.com.

Moet Kurakata

Visual Artist at Changing Tides

Moet is currently a pre-nursing student in Santa Monica, California. Upon graduating from UCLA with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Cognitive Science, she took a gap year to work closely with the Japanese American community in Los Angeles both through working at a Japanese American arts and cultural community nonprofit, and being one of the founding members of Changing Tides, an organization that aims to destigmatize mental health in the Asian American community. During her time at UCLA, she was also part of the Active Minds UCLA Chapter and the Nikkei Student Union, the Japanese American cultural club on campus. She’s decided to pursue nursing as a mental health advocate in recovery from her own eating disorder, who is passionate about the physical, emotional, and mental well-being! 

Click to learn about the rest of our speakers and performers


Click here for full descriptions of each workshop & performance 

Shame, Self-Compassion, and Affiliative Pride

West Lounge


The Politics of Mental Health

East Lounge




Friday April 10, 2020, 5:30-7:30

Mental Health in Expression: Healing through Art and Performance

Center for Identity and Inclusion


Dinner and Registration

Catering provided by Snail Thai Cuisine




MOET KURAKATA, visual artist

Dr. ADA CHENG, storyteller

JUSTINE SHIH, singer/songwriter

MIMANSA DOGRA, stand-up comedy

KRISTINA KIM, spoken word artist and dancer


Panel Discussion

Saturday April 11, 2020, 9:30-5:00

Ida Noyes Hall


Breakfast and Registration

Ida Noyes Foyer

Catered by Au Bon Pain



Keynote: Getting Effective Mental Health Care to Asian American Students at Risk of Depression

Cloister Club




 Breakout Session #1 

Asian American Mental Health and Wellness on Campus & Decolonizing Mental Health - Reclaiming Wellness Wisdom and Narratives

Cloister Club


College Mental Health Care: A Discussion with SCS

West Lounge


from Student Counseling Services

Decolonizing Salvation

3rd Floor Theater


Millennials: Intergenerational Conflict and Implications for Mental Health

East Lounge

from Sanjeevani



Ida Noyes Library/Lounge

Catered by Potsticker House


 Breakout Session #2 

For All Asians: Pan-Asian Solidarity for Mental Liberation

West Lounge

from MannMukti

Mental Health Intervention in Asian Immigrant Populations

East Lounge



 Breakout Session #3 

Straight to the Heart! Storytelling with Dr. Ada Cheng

3rd Floor Theater



Performance and Reflection

Cloister Club



Reception and Resources Fair

Ida Noyes Library/Lounge

Catered by Bon Appétit


The Organizers

Break the Silence is presented in collaboration by five different student organizations: UChicago Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA), UChicago South Asian Students Association (SASA), Active Minds: University of Chicago Chapter, PanAsia Solidarity Coalition at the University of Chicago, and UChicago MannMukti. To learn more about each partnering organization and about our organizing team, please click the button below!



Location andParking

Limited street parking is available around campus.


Parking Garages: The preferred visitor garage is located at 55th St and Ellis Ave. The Campus South Parking Garage is located at 6054 S Drexel Ave, near the Logan Center for the Arts, open to non-permit holders after 9am. Visitors may park at the Medical Campus parking garage, at 59th St and Maryland Ave.


Parking Lots: Wells Lot, located near the Logan Center at 60th St and Drexel Ave, is free after 4pm and all day on weekends.

More information on parking rates

Map of parking garages and lots