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College welcomes new endowed chair for mental health


A researcher with an established track record of finding innovative and effective ways to promote behaviors associated with behavioral and mental health wellbeing and vaccination issues in underserved youth populations is coming to the Michigan State University College of Nursing.

Dr. Angela Chia-Chen Chen will start on June 15 as the inaugural McLaren Greater Lansing Endowed Chair for Behavioral Mental Health Nursing Education. In her role, Chen will lead the college’s efforts in partnership with McLaren Greater Lansing to develop strategic educational initiatives and novel practice models to improve inclusive and equitable behavioral mental health and wellbeing of our community.

“I am humbled and excited to serve as the McLaren Greater Lansing Endowed Chair for Behavioral Mental Health Nursing Education,” said Chen. “This unique position will offer an unparalleled platform to promote behavioral and mental health awareness, reduce stigma, and improve the overall well-being of individuals and communities. Through collective efforts, we can make a profound difference together.”

Chen comes to MSU from Arizona State University, where she has been since 2005 and most recently served as faculty and as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Crisis Preparation and Recovery in Tempe, Arizona.

Much of Chen’s work is focused on improving mental and behavioral health among vulnerable youth through technology-centered prevention programs. For example, she has worked to use innovative, theory-based interventions such as video games to improve understanding and communicating around the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) to reduce hesitancy among youth and their parents through joined decision-making, and, thus, to promote vaccination as a cancer prevention strategy. In addition, she conducted research in Louisiana during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to assess mental health issues among Black and Vietnamese populations in New Orleans. Chen has also focused on perceived discrimination among minority nursing staff and Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic and their levels of stress and wellbeing. The overarching focus of her work has been creatively addressing the promotion of health and wellbeing, which she will bring to nursing care provided at McLaren and infuse into all the nursing programs of the college.

As part of her move to MSU, Chen will work on two grants, including one that is a NIH-funded study focused on game-based intervention to promote HPV vaccination in families with unvaccinated children.

“We very much look forward to welcoming Dr. Chen to MSU,” said Dr. Leigh Small, dean of the College of Nursing. “She will be instrumental in our strategy to position the college as an emerging national leader in wellbeing. In addition, her work will be critical in meeting the university’s sustainable health goals by promoting wellness, strengthening our ability to develop resilient professional nurses, and promoting wellbeing among nurses at one of our key clinical partners.”

Chen earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan and gained a Master of Science in Psychosocial and Community Health Nursing from the University of Washington. She also received a post-master’s certification in psychiatric mental health nursing and went on to complete her research PhD from the University of Washington. Because of her groundbreaking research and excellence as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, Chen is being inducted this summer as a fellow in the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Along with several other college initiatives, having Chen join the MSU Spartan Nursing faculty team marks a strategic advancement aimed at improving wellbeing. For example, the college has incorporated some wellness and mindfulness activities across the curriculum, created a formal Wellness Committee and proposed a university-wide sustainable health initiative focused on improving wellbeing among students, staff and faculty.