Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Introducing: The RAMS Peer Internship Program

RAMS Division of Peer-Based Services is very excited to announce the inaugural Peer Internship 2015-2016. The Peer Internship Program is with the “Division of Peer- Based Services” for individuals with lived experience who are a consumer of behavioral health services, a former consumer, a family member of a consumer, and/or currently a peer provider working for a community agency providing behavioral health services.

The Internship Program offers a collaborative learning – peer supported environment, in which Peer Interns work with other Peer Practitioners throughout the 9-month program. Peer Interns will receive weekly supervision and also attend at least two formal trainings per month provided by RAMS for additional professional development. The Internship Program also provides weekly group supervision from a Peer Supervisor, as well as ongoing individual supervision from a site supervisor.

The Peer Internship Program is a 9-month, 20 hours/week, paid ($12.25/hour) under RAMS “Division of Peer-Based Services”.

Please check it out and share with those interested in your network. For questions, please feel free to contact us at 415-579-3021 (ask for Miguel Leyva at Ext. 107) or email us at

  • APPLICATION DUE DATE: October 2, 2015 by 5:00pm 
  • Notification of Application Status: Week of October 19th 
  • Registration Forms Due Date: October 28, 2015 
  • Internship Start Date: November 2, 2015 
Click HERE to download the application.

Thank you for your interest in the Peer Internship Program!

To view the flyer below, right-click and select any option to "Open".  Click HERE to download the flyer. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Six Seasons of Summer Bridge

Today's guest post is from Danni Biondini, MA, Behavioral Health Counselor at RAMS who also serves as the Program Coordinator for the Summer Bridge program, which is an 8-week summer mentoring program for San Francisco high school students, designed "to promote awareness of psychological well-being and foster interest in the helping professions". 


RAMS has successfully graduated its sixth cohort of future mental health professionals!

Summer Bridge held its graduation at the CA Institute of Integral Studies on Thursday, July 30th. The event was well-attended by the 27 graduates, their families/friends, and RAMS staff.

This event celebrated the culmination of this year's Summer Bridge, our 8-week summer program which introduces youth to the field of psychology. Funded by the Mental Health Services Act, the program recruits SF Unified School District youth from underrepresented backgrounds for an intensive introduction to the mental health field, exploring topics such as: Identity, Mental Health, Education, Helping Professions, Therapy, and Self-Care. As one parent noted at the graduation, he has "never seen a program that includes so much learning and so much fun."

Staff bring in guest speakers, lead interactive activities, and take the participants on field trips. We returned to some of our most popular field trip sites, including the Fort Miley Ropes Course, the GLBT History Museum, RAMS Child Youth & Family Outpatient Clinic, SF State University, and Psychiatric Emergency Services at General Hospital. A new addition to this year's program was a scavenger hunt to different agencies throughout the city. Participants broke into three teams to see who could visit the most agencies within the allotted time. Participants cited this as a highlight of the program! (And the winning team was rewarded with 'highly-coveted' RAMS glass water bottles.)

Summer Bridge Mentors (L-R): Sophia Padilla, Erica Kan, and Jemel Borromeo

This year's participants were a thoughtful, engaged group of young people. About half of them will be going to college in the Fall, hopefully to study Psychology, and the others will return to high school. After completing Summer Bridge, participants are invited to join theYouth Council, RAMS' youth advisory board.

We encourage participants to remain in contact with their mentors, as well as the Summer Bridge staff: Danni Biondini, MA; Ernest Brown, Ph.D.; and Heather Truschel, LPCC.  Looking forward to the future, we will be conducting research to follow the progress of our six cohorts. Additionally, in the coming months, we will be planning how to build on the success of the program.

(L-R): Ernest Brown, Ph.D., Summer Bridge Counselor; Heather Truschel, LPCC, Summer Bridge Counselor; Danni Biondini, M.A., Summer Bridge Coordinator; Yuka Hachiuma, LMFT, RAMS Child, Youth, & Family Services Clinic Program Director; Christina Shea, LMFT, RAMS Deputy Chief & Director of Clinical Services

Friday, July 31, 2015

Introducing the Awardees of the 2015 Staff Awards for Outstanding Service

RAMS is delighted to announce the awardees of the third annual Staff Awards for Outstanding Service!

To be considered for this recognition, anyone working at RAMS may be nominated by anyone within the agency. The awardees were announced during the July 2015 all-staff meeting; each awardee received a certificate and a cash prize.

Consumer/Community Advocate Award: This award honors an individual who has been an outstanding voice for consumer empowerment by promoting client centered decision-making & change, access to information & resources, and creating relationships that foster hope, safety, and a sense of self-efficacy. S/he is mindful not only of consumer needs, but also of the needs of the larger community. S/he goes above and beyond the “call of duty”, outside her/his regular responsibilities to advocate on the behalf of the organization, consumers, their communities, and the “cause” at large.

Awardee: Miguel Leyva
Mr. Miguel Levya is a bicultural & bilingual Tagalog-speaking peer services provider and advocate. In the nomination, Mr. Miguel Levya was described as being instrumental in the development and implementation of peer counseling services at the RAMS Adult/Older Adult Outpatient Services Clinic. In addition to creating a welcoming space through his tireless efforts, he brought different services and group activities such as gardening, movie & discussion, art, pet therapy, and community outings. Mr. Leyva supported clients by offering experiences to enhance overall wellness. By bearing the honorable title of Peer Counselor, he assumed the responsibility of an advocate by example. In accomplishing all that he has at RAMS, he has advocated for all consumers that recovery is possible. Mr. Levya currently serves as the Wellness/Drop-In Center Coordinator with the RAMS Division of Peer-Based Services.

Excellence in Service & Cultural Competency Award: This award honors a skilled & compassionate individual who exemplifies the values and ideals of RAMS’ mission in her/his work & interaction with staff, consumers, and the community. S/he has given superior, sustained commitment to quality services, along with unwavering dedication to serve the organization (including other staff, consumers & their communities) with professionalism, integrity, respect, and humility. This individual is not only skilled at what s/he does, but also values diversity, is able to conduct self-assessments, manage & embrace the dynamics of difference, acquire new cultural knowledge, and adapt to the cultural context of the people s/he serves. S/he has a lasting positive impact on the organization and the communities.

Awardee: Priscilla Kyu, MSW, ASW
Ms. Priscilla Kyu is a bicultural Behavioral Health Counselor/Trainer at the RAMS CalWORKs Counseling & Pre-Vocational Services program. In the nomination, it was noted that Ms. Kyu has demonstrated, during the course of her entire adult life, a dedication to underserved groups and individuals, and a clear understating of the importance of culturally sensitive services in the community. She exhibits humility, empathy, professionalism & diplomacy, and systemic thinking as well as is a steadfast advocate for culturally competent services and outreach. Ms. Kyu continuously exhibits her commitment to working with diverse groups of clients – and her natural ability to build rapport with clients and colleagues alike – has made her invaluable in our community.

Rising Star/Leadership Award: The award honors an individual that has shown exceptional promise in leadership by demonstrating their skills within the organization and our communities. S/he has shown accomplishments in improving the operations of a program, the administrative/supportive functions, and/or the lives of consumers and community we serve using an effective and efficient approach. This individual leads the way with fresh energy, strong ability, and steadfast commitment.

Awardee: Michael Silva, RN, NP
Mr. Michael Silva is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and provides services at various RAMS programs: Adult/Older Ddult Outpatient Services Clinic; Broderick Street Adult Residential Facility; and CAAP Counseling & Pre-Vocational Services. In the nomination, Mr. Silva is described as having provided instrumental leadership in clinical services. He leads with his humility, work ethics, and professionalism and is committed to RAMS and his work. Because of him, the different programs can operate smoothly, the staff members work closer as a team, and clients can leave RAMS happier and with more fulfilled lives.

Congratulations to the awardees! RAMS is pleased to be able to have this annual recognition for its staff.

Click HERE to view awardees from the previous year. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Director of RAMS Division of Peer-Based Services

It is with great pleasure that we announce the new appointment of Hasian T. Sinaga, as the Director for the newly established RAMS Division of Peer-Based Services, effective July 16, 2015.

With over 20 years of community services, Ms. Hasian Sinaga has significant experience in leadership roles of vocational and peer employment programs.  She has been serving as the RAMS Director of Vocational Services since 2010.  During her tenure, the RAMS Hire-Ability Vocational Services program has achieved great accomplishments such as outstanding reaccreditation surveys, commendable external program reviews, and the successful expansion & implementation of program services. To highlight, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) – the most valued recognition worldwide for high quality rehabilitation services and agency operations – noted that RAMS and Hire-Ability achieved the maximum 3-year accreditation during its most recent reaccreditation visit in 2014.  The CARF surveyors also made no recommendations which only three percent of CARF surveys achieve.  In addition, Ms. Sinaga led the program in RAMS’ successful transition of multiple, substantial vocational services contracts which has enhanced the agency’s continuum of vocational and peer services.  She is a strong advocate for consumer training & peer employment and consumer empowerment as well as promoter of the wellness & recovery principles.  Prior to RAMS, Ms. Sinaga has held positions as Director of Employment Services at Toolworks as well as worked at Kainos Home & Training Center and Family Housing & Adult Resources.  She is also an alumnus of Leadership San Francisco, an affiliate of the SF Chamber of Commerce, which aims to strengthen the leadership, communications, and collaborative skills of its participants.

Ms. Sinaga clearly demonstrates effective leadership skills, expertise in cultural competent vocational and peer employment programming, and a highly collaborative approach resulting in many strong partnerships with our consumer community, community agencies, and funders.  Please join me in welcoming and congratulating Ms. Hasian Sinaga to her new appointment at RAMS.  You may contact our Division of Peer-Based Services at (415) 579-3021.

Division Director Hasian Sinaga (center), pictured with Division of Peer Based Services management staff:                 Clinical Manager Richard Zevin, LCSW (left) and Operations Manager Nicole Ng (right)

About the RAMS Division of Peer-Based Services:
At the forefront of the peer provider profession, RAMS offers peer counseling, outreach, and education & training throughout San Francisco. Under the RAMS Division of Peer-Based Services, there are four components: (1) Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate, (2) Peer Counseling & Outreach Services, (3) Peer Internship Program, and (4) Wellness/Drop-In Center. RAMS programs uphold principles of wellness and recovery with an approach that is strengths-based and promotes a sense of empowerment, self-direction, and hope.

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Program Director at RAMS Asian Family Institute

It is with great pleasure that we announce the new appointment of Mary Poon, PsyD, as the RAMS Director of Asian Family Institute.  

Dr. Mary Poon is a licensed clinical psychologist and is bilingual in Cantonese and English.  She comes to this role with supervisory & management, teaching, and extensive clinical experience in providing culturally competent services in the community behavioral health and human services sector.  Dr. Poon has held various positions at RAMS, throughout the years, having initially worked as a Mental Health Counselor at the Outpatient Clinic before relocating to Macau where she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Macau, Department of Psychology and held faculty appointments at various other universities.  In addition, she continued to provide psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and adults in various agencies.  Upon Dr. Poon’s return to the San Francisco Bay Area, she reconnected with RAMS and most recently served in the role of Instructor/Coordinator of the RAMS Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate, a collaboration between RAMS and San Francisco State University, Department of Counseling.  She also served as a Behavioral Health Consultant at the RAMS PAES Counseling & Pre-Vocational Services program.  Dr. Poon has a deep commitment and unique expertise for serving the Asian & Pacific Islander community and diverse populations, having worked in the various community settings – outpatient, residential, school-based, juvenile justice – for 20 years.

Dr. Poon received her Doctorate of Psychology from The Wright Institute.  She is a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor and also maintains her registration as a Clinical Psychologist with the Hong Kong Psychological Association in addition to her California licensure as a Psychologist.  Dr. Poon is a skilled clinician, possesses a sound understanding of the multiple systems and continuum of care, and exhibits exceptional organizational and management skills.

Please join us in welcoming and congratulating Dr. Mary Poon to her new appointment at RAMS Asian Family Institute.  You may contact Dr. Mary Poon at RAMS at (415) 668-5998 x26 or

(L-R) Mary Poon, PsyD, Director of Asian Family Institute, with Christina Shea, LMFT, RAMS Deputy Chief & Director of Clinical Services

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate -- Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2015 Class

RAMS, in collaboration with SFSU, is excited to announce that the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program is currently accepting applications for the Fall 2015 Class!

Funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program provides a 12-week long training for consumers of behavioral health services or their family members who are interested in becoming peer counselors/peer specialists in the field of community behavioral health.  Having already successfully completed 10 cohort cycles, this program has had over 130 graduates, the majority of whom are actively engaging in work, volunteer, and educational opportunities as a direct result of taking the course.  This program is free of cost for the attendee, with books and materials included, and a modest stipend provided upon completion of the course.

We are looking for individuals who:
•    are at least 18 years old residents of San Francisco
•    have completed at least a high school level education or GED
•    are current or past consumers of behavioral health services and/or family members of consumers
•    are interested in helping others in the community behavioral health setting

Application and course timeline is as follows:
•    Monday, July 6th - Application Release
•    Tuesday, July 21st & Thursday, July 23rd - Optional Program Open Houses (see Flyer HERE for details)
•    Friday, August 7th @ 5:00pm - Application Deadline
•    Week of August 24th - Notification of Application Status
•    Friday, September 4th - Registration Forms Due for Accepted Applicants
•    Tuesday, September 15th - 1st Day of Class
•    Thursday, December 17th - Graduation Ceremony

Please feel free to contact us at (415) 579-3021 x102 or should you have any questions. Materials are also available for download at:

We look forward to receiving applications for the Fall 2015 class, and beginning another great cohort!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mental Health and Wellness in May 2015

In honor of Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day and May being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, on May 10, RAMS was pleased to partner with the Richmond District Neighborhood Center (RDNC) to hold a Family Wellness Fair focusing on fun activities and games to involve the whole family, and encourage conversation & awareness of mental health & wellness.  As this day also fell on Mother's Day this year, RAMS and RDNC staff & volunteers facilitated interactive and engaging activities focusing on togetherness, family interaction, and of course honoring and celebrating Mom on this special day.

Additionally, during the month of May, RAMS is pleased to be engaged in a series of mental health activities:
  -- RAMS Deputy Chief & Director of Clinical Services Christina Shea, LMFT, and API Mental Health Collaborative Program Coordinator Natalie T. Ah Soon, MPH, co-presented at the California Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies (CASRA) Spring Conference on May 7 in Concord.  Their workshop was titled "Lost in Translation: How Cultures and Languages Describe their Own Health", and described how culturally competent treatment is beyond just the language, how culture explains physical and emotional pain, and how it can only be understood within the cultural context. "Globalizing mental illness" can only lead to misunderstanding, miscommunication, and mistreatment, and Asian Pacific Islander communities in San Francisco attempt to support API communities in understanding and communicating about their pain, and hopefully lead to healing. 

  -- RAMS co-sponsored the 3rd Annual Asian Pacific Islander Health Forum, Northern California’s health education forum focusing on the Asian and Pacific Islander Communities, on May 7. The goals were to inform professionals about the most relevant challenges facing the Asian/Pacific Islander population in Sonoma County, to enhance access and quality of health services for the Asian/Pacific Islander community, and to facilitate networking among healthcare and other service providers.

  -- RAMS co-sponsored the annual Richmond Community Health Festival on May 2nd.

RAMS will also be participating in the upcoming NAMIWalk event taking place in San Francisco on Saturday, May 30.  The 5k walk will be held in Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park.  Check-in starts at 8:30am; Walk time starts at 10:00am.  Please click HERE to register, donate, or join & raise funds, or see more details about the event.  We hope you join us at the Walk!