Dongmi Kim, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP
Assistant Clinical Professor
Fairleigh Dickinson University School of Pharmacy
Florham Park, NJ
Consumer Relations Committee
"Giving back makes you grateful for what you have.”
This is how Mei Liu, a Chinese American Board-Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist, describes the personal impact of volunteering at the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) New Jersey chapter. Throughout the year, Mei delivers presentations to family members and patients on pharmacotherapy in psychiatric diseases. After her presentations, she conducts an informal Q&A session where patients and caregivers can discuss concerns about their medication therapy. According to Mei, Clinical Assistant Professor at Rutgers, patients have brought questions to these sessions that they don’t normally ask their psychiatrists.
NAMI New Jersey is a vibrant and active community which hosts several sub-chapters directed to minorities, one of which is CAMHOP or the Chinese American Mental Health Outreach Program in New Jersey. CAMHOP is pronounced like “golden crane” in Chinese, a symbol that represents health and longevity to Chinese. CAMHOP helps Chinese American individuals and families affected by mental illness by holding workshops, peer-to-peer sessions, and seminars. It also provides referral services to Chinese speaking clinicians.
Five years ago, Mei was asked to co-teach a lecture during one of the workshops hosted by South Asian Mental Health Awareness in Jersey (SAMHAJ). Her lectures are given on an as needed-basis. Mei travels throughout Edison, Bridgewater, Piscataway, and Atlantic City to give her lectures, which are typically scheduled once a year. Members of CAMHOP would email medication questions to Mei throughout the year whenever the needs arise. She notes that it is not easy managing it all as a young mother and faculty member but she knows that culture can be a big barrier to effective treatment of mental illness. Even though the patient may be fluent in English, family members may not have equal language proficiency or may not feel comfortable sharing their experiences. Being a Chinese American and being able to speak in Cantonese, one of the two major dialects of Chinese, give Mei a tremendous opportunity to help patients and family members who are affected by mental illness.
Mei has found her way to give toward the Chinese American community and she encourages other members of CPNP to look for opportunities to give.