Professor Wei-Chin Hwang Awarded Second NIMH Grant

Assistant professor of psychology Wei-Chin Hwang has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to culturally adapt Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Chinese-Americans.

"As part of this project, I wrote a new culturally adapted treatment for depressed Chinese Americans," Hwang said. "We are going to run a clinical trial at two clinics in Los Angeles and San Francisco to see if modifying therapy and making it more culturally responsive will improve outcomes for ethnic minority clients who tend to have worse outcomes and drop out of mental health treatment more prematurely."

Hwang hopes to change the way mental healthcare providers deliver services and ensure better outcomes while also improving the cultural competency training of mental health professionals.

"I will be supervising approximately 15 to 20 therapists in various community mental health clinics," Hwang said. "In addition, there are several masters level clinicians, postdoctoral fellows, CGU graduate students, and about a dozen CMC undergraduates working on the project."

The NIMH grant for culturally adapting CBT research is the second that Hwang has been awarded. Last year, he was the program leader of a five-year NIMH grant that, much like the current grant, worked to determine whether therapist cultural competency is related to mental health treatment outcomes for ethnic minority clients. Over its five-year span, the project will track the treatment progress of thousands of patients being treated by hundreds of clinicians.

NIMH grants attract a pool of extremely competitive candidates. Federal grants are seen as the most prestigious kind of grant because of the rigorous review process they undergo. Unfortunately, Hwang notes, federal funds are increasingly more difficult to obtain because of budgetary problems and those that are funded are being cut by 10 percent, making projects not only more difficult to fund but also difficult to complete.