Professor Irene Wong is Professor at the School of Social Policy & Practice. She has more than forty years of experience as a social work practitioner, educator, and researcher, with an interdisciplinary focus that spans the fields of community development, housing and homelessness, and mental health services research.
Since coming to Penn in 1995, Dr. Wong has been principal investigator and co-investigator of numerous research projects in the areas of mental health, homelessness, housing, and community inclusion. With 70 publications to her credit, Dr. Wong publishes widely in interdisciplinary and mental health journals including Social Science & Medicine, Social Service Review, Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Schizophrenia Research, Psychiatric Services, Health and Place, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, and Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research.
Since 2013, Professor Wong’s research has focused on understanding the cultural manifestation of stigma of mental illness in Chinese society and developing culture-specific and culturally relevant multi-level interventions to reduce stigma among persons with psychiatric disabilities and their family members. She is passionate about changing public perception of mental illness, a medical condition that affects about 17% of 1.4 billion people in China. She has developed this mixed-method research agenda with an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural team of researchers from the United States and China. Her goal is to make a positive impact on the well-being of families affected by serious mental illness in China and beyond.
Professor Wong’s areas of teaching include research in social work, quantitative analysis, understanding social change, and mental health with U.S. veterans. She was the Faculty Director of International Programs from 2010-2016, Interim Associate Dean for Global Studies in 2018-2019, and Interim Ph.D. Program Director in 2022-2023 in the School of Social Policy & Practice. Since 2008, she has been serving as a member of the Hong Kong Social Workers Registration Board Assessment Panel. She is currently collaborator of Chengdu Mental Health Project, China.