Monday, October 13, 2014

Free Showing of an award-winning movie that pries the lid off a cultural taboo

An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) family trying to make the best of their circumstances. A wife haunted by traumatic memories of her past. A husband battling his own issues while having to keep his job, his sanity and his marriage together. A very realistic but truly sympathetic portrayal of mental illness that affects many Filipino households.

Mga Anino ng Kahapon (Shadows of the Past) starring Agot Isidro and TJ Trinidad is an acclaimed landmark film about a family's heart-wrenching journey through mental illness juxtaposed against the lingering traumas of martial law and the challenges of OFWs.

The movie directed by Alvin B. Yapan earned the Special Jury Prize at the Metro Manila Film Festival New Wave Division and won Agot Isidro the Best Actress award for the same division.

Mga Anino ng Kahapon will be shown for the first time in the Bay Area for FREE.
Date: Saturday, October 25, 2014 
Time: 4:30pm-7:00pm 
Location: Skyline College (Building 4, Room 4148) 3300 College Drive, San Bruno, CA 94066
The movie is in Tagalog with English subtitles.

Sponsored by Positively Filipino, the Filipino Mental Health Initiative of San Mateo (FMHISMC) and RAMS Inc., a nonprofit mental health agency serving Asian Americans, the film screening will be followed by a Q&A led by Dr. Jei Africa of FMHISMC with the special participation of Manila-based journalist and mental health advocate Cathy Sanchez-Babao, who was instrumental in the making of this movie.

The public is invited. Light refreshments will be served.

Seats are limited to please RSVP immediately to or at

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mental Health First Aid training in Tagalog and English on October 26

RAMS' Asian & Pacific Islander Mental Health Collaborative is pleased to announce that its community collaborator, San Francisco Filipino Mental Health Initiative, will be continuing and offering another Mental Health First Aid course in Tagalog and English.
When a mental health crisis happens, people are often wondering what to do and generally unable to detect early signs of mental health issues. Mental Health First Aid training addresses these questions and offers participants with the knowledge & skills to recognize warning signs, how to assess a mental health crisis, and how to act during the crisis situation.  The course will train seniors, caregivers, and community members.  The training is FREE, sponsored by RAMS and funded by Mental Health Services Act through Community Behavioral Health Services-San Francisco Department of Public Health.

When: Sunday, October 26, 2014, 9:00am to 5:00pm 
Where: Bayanihan Center, 1010 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Lunch and light snacks will be provided.
For more information, and if you are interested in this training, please contact Joyce Vives-Diloy, MSW, Filipino Cultural & Language Specialist at the San Francisco Filipino Mental Health Initiative, at:

Space is limited, please RSVP to by October 20 to reserve your spot.

According to the National Council on Behavioral Health:
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID?  Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health concerns, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. The course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect persons to professional, peer and social supports as well as self-help resources. Mental Health First Aid allows for early detection and intervention by teaching participants about the signs and symptoms of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and addictions. The program offers concrete tools and answers key questions like “What can I do?” and “Where can someone find help?” Participants are introduced to local mental health resources, national organizations, support groups, and online tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support. 

WHY MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID?  One in five Americans has a mental illness and many are reluctant to seek help or might not know where to turn for care. The symptoms of mental illness can be difficult to detect — even when friends and family of someone who appears to be developing a mental illness can tell that something is amiss, they may not know how to intervene or direct the person to proper treatment – which means that all too often, those in need of mental health services do not get them until it is too late. As a society, we largely remain ignorant about the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, and we ignore our role as responsible community members to help people experiencing these illnesses. 
To view the flyers below, right-click and select any option to "Open"

Friday, September 26, 2014

RAMS participates in NIMH and SAMHSA webinar & roundtable discussion

RAMS participated, as a primary discussant, in the invitational roundtable discussion & webinar event on, “Practice-Based Research and Implementation: Developing a Framework for Collaboration to Reduce Mental Health Disparities” on September 25, 2014. The Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Office of Behavioral Health Equity in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) were the hosts and sponsoring entities for this webinar event & discussion.

The objective of this webinar was to enhance understanding of the development of behavioral health services collaboration approaches that accelerate the dissemination of research-based mental health treatments into communities. There was a focus on the importance of utilizing practice based data to identify trends in mental health care disparities for members of the racial and ethnic minority groups and rural populations as collaborations are developed. The event was an opportunity to learn from researchers, practitioners, community providers and leaders on how best to develop research-practice partnerships to increase access to and the availability of culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services. The conversations was to set the stage for thinking about ways to align efforts underway in NIMH and SAMHSA to address disparities in mental health outcomes across diverse populations.

 In an effort to generate conversations that will lead to an action plan, RAMS was invited to share our experiences, ideas, and solutions on implementing mental health services & treatment that have helped to reduce mental health disparities, challenges faced in implementing mental health services & treatment to reducing mental health disparities, and ways that those challenges could become opportunities to address mental health disparities.

RAMS is grateful for the generous invitation to present and have the opportunity to share what we have done and are working on with the wider healthcare audience & community-at-large.

Check out SAMHSA's 2015-2018 Strategic Plan, a new strategic plan outlining six Strategic Initiatives focused on leading change to better meet the behavioral health care needs of individuals, communities, and service providers.  The document in its entirety can be downloaded HERE.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Depression: Pathways to Resilience and Recovery" event on September 13

The UCSF Depression Center and its Community Advisory Board (of which RAMS is a member), the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will present "Depression: Pathways to Resilience and Recovery," a day-long event looking at the diagnosis, treatment, and impact of depression this Saturday (September 13) at UCSF's Cole Hall.

The symposium will feature a multitude of workshops on topics such as advances in treatment, depression’s impact on relationships, online tools for assessment and treatment, suicide prevention, and strategies for self-care and supporting loved ones. The event will also feature presentations by California Highway Patrol officer and "Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge" Sgt. Kevin Briggs, suicide attempt survivor Kevin Berthia, and director/writer/producer David Zucker.

 "Depression: Pathways to Resilience and Recovery" is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested. To find out more program details, download the flyer, and register now, visit

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summertime and The Learnin’ is Easy (and Over)

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 Summer Bridge has completed its fifth summer! A diverse group of youth, between the ages of 16-19, graduated from this MHSA-funded workforce development program. The program culminated in a graduation ceremony at California Institute of Integral Studies on Thursday, July 31st. The participants celebrated with their families, as well as RAMS staff/administration. Each of the 25 participants received a certificate of completion, as well as a stipend check for their involvement.

Over the course of the 8-week program, the participants learned about working in the field of Psychology and the helping professions. Through guest speakers and field trips, they met with licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional clinical counselors. One of the highlights of the program was the field trip to Psychiatric Emergency Services at San Francisco General Hospital, where the participants saw firsthand what it’s like to work in a psychiatric emergency room. Another participant cited visiting the RAMS Fu Yau Project as her favorite experience, since learning about preschool mental health consultation strengthened her resolve to become a child psychologist.

 Besides learning about the various paths to working in the mental health field, the participants were introduced to basic listening and counseling skills, ideas about stigma and the origins of mental illness, and strategies for practicing self-care. They presented final projects on some of the topics that interested them more, including: eating disorders, the intergenerational transmission of trauma.

The youth developed strong relationships with each other, with the three peer mentors, and with the three staff members. One of the most notable comments that the staff received was that
Summer Bridge was the only place some of these youth have ever felt comfortable to be themselves. 
More than just an opportunity to learn, this program provided a new template for social experiences with peers.

 Now, the participants will return to high school, or head off to college, with this new knowledge about steps to take for their futures. All participants are invited to join Youth Council, the youth advisory board for RAMS, which meets throughout the school year. After the program ended, Summer Bridge hosted an end-of-summer reunion for this year’s cohort to meet previous cohorts. To further build upon and sustain lasting relationships, Summer Bridge will host another reunion in the winter.

For more details about this program, visit

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Introducing the Awardees of the 2014 Staff Awards for Outstanding Service

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

To be considered for this recognition, anyone working at RAMS may be nominated by anyone within the agency. A diverse committee representing staff and management personnel reviewed all nomination submissions.

The awardees were announced during the July 2014 all-staff meeting, at which they were presented with a certificate. Awardees were also given 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: Claudia Molina, BA
Ms. Claudia Molina is a bicultural & bilingual Spanish-speaking Empowerment Services Coordinator of the Peer Counseling Services Program. Over the years based at Mission Mental Health Clinic (SFDPH), she has been a dynamic and strong advocate for the consumers. She has always gone above & beyond to support and link consumers to housing, legal, and other community supports based on their needs. She is extremely resourceful and always shares her wealth of knowledge & information to benefit others.

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: Kathleen Gonzales, RN 
Ms. Kathleen Gonzales is a bicultural & bilingual Tagalog-speaking Nurse Manager at Broderick Street Adult Residential Facility. She exhibits diligence; she actively and empathically listens to others; she gives time to and seeks out input & ideas from the nursing and counseling teams as well as treats all the residents/clients with deep respect and empathy. She brings knowledge of her background to her work with the Asian Pacific American residents/clients as well as the issues that concern & affect the staff/supervisees. Furthermore, in her position she frequently communicates with counselors - seeking out all culturally relevant treatment information and ensures the nursing team is aware of and understands them. There have been many instances of resident/client issues that involved cultural dynamics and she consistently offered her insights & suggestions during case conferences/team meetings as well as sought feedback with humility. She has made a positive impact at RAMS and in the lives of the residents/clients.

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: Richard Zevin, LCSW
Mr. Richard Zevin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking Program Manager of San Francisco Achievement Collaborative Team (SF-ACT) of the Wellness Centers Program, where he oversees the clinical component of an innovative juvenile drug court treatment program, located at Civic Center Secondary School. He also provides clinical supervision for RAMS social work staff and interns in a variety of programs throughout the agency. He has demonstrated exceptional commitment to RAMS as shown through his service in four different positions at four programs since he was first hired (i.e., as Treatment Coordinator at Bridge To Wellness, Behavioral Health Counselor at Wellness Centers Program, Senior Behavioral Health Counselor at PAES Counseling & Pre-Vocational Services, and currently as SF-ACT Program Manager). As the Program Manager he bridges the communication between high school administration, the juvenile justice system, and the Department of Public Health. He has a unique ability to communicate with people from different walks of life; through his passion & ability to connect with at-risk youth; his professionalism; his warmth; and his exceptional clinical skills. He truly is a contributor to RAMS and our community’s continued success.

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.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reflections on a Milestone: 100 Peer Specialist Graduates, and Counting!

Today's guest post is from Shana Averbach, LMFT, Coordinator of the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate program being offered by RAMS and San Francisco State University Dept. of Counseling. Started in Fall 2010, the Certificate Program's goal is "to prepare consumers and/or family members with the basic skills & knowledge for entry-level employment in the behavioral health system of care and with academic/career planning that supports success in institutions of higher learning". 

It is with great enthusiasm that we announce a major milestone for the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program: With the recent graduation of 13 students from the program’s eighth cohort, our total number of graduates from the course has passed 100! This is no small feat for the program that was constructed from the ground up in 2010 and has continued to grow and flourish over the following four years.

The most recent cohort graduated June 19th at the San Francisco State University Downtown Campus, the same location where it spent the prior 12 weeks learning about the basic tenets of community behavioral health treatment. Equipped with new knowledge to add to their already valuable lived experience with mental health and/or substance use treatment and recovery, many are already exploring job and volunteer opportunities in the peer professional community.

Joining in the celebration were students’ direct supporters – friends, family members, social workers, neighbors, and bosses (to name a few!). Also in attendance were many of the course’s guest lecturers, and representatives from agencies who continually invite students to shadow their work as part of the course’s 8-hour required field observation assignment. And of course, a number of the 100+ alumni from previous cohorts were present – proudly sporting ribbons of gold and purple to indicate their status as members of this pioneering course. Everyone was invited to write one personal “wellness ingredient,” and these flavors of wellness adorned the room for all to share.

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Dr. Rob Williams, Chair of SF State Dept. of Counseling
As is often the case with milestones, having 100+ graduates evokes a time of reflection on what makes this program successful. There are certainly outcomes that the program can point to – such as knowing that the majority of its graduates actively engage in work, volunteer, and educational opportunities as a direct result of taking the course – that are good indicators that the program is successfully meeting its objectives. But it’s the overall integrity of the program that stands out as a success; In other words, on any given day, the program is truly abiding by the principles on which it was founded.

Funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), The Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program is proudly rooted in its guiding principles, which include the following:

Community Collaboration: Every aspect of the course – from outreach to curriculum development and delivery to quality control - is immersed in collaboration between community behavioral health agencies and peer input. The spirit of togetherness is felt in ongoing networking events, professional development, and celebrations such as the graduation described above. The success of the program hinges on the success of the collaboration.

Cultural Competence: Course curriculum includes a cultural competency focus from day one, and program participants – and later direct peer service providers - represent cultures and languages as diverse as the city we serve. Cultural competence isn’t a side note; it’s center stage.

Focus on Wellness: In this course as in the field of peer professionals, the Wellness and Recovery Model leads the way. Whether addressing stigma and inviting hope by sharing lived experience or rejoining and rebuilding life in the community by engaging in the course and/or the workforce, participants in this program live and breathe the empowering message “I did it and so can you.” This message grows exponentially each and every time it’s delivered, and it is delivered often.

* * * * *
So, in saluting our most recent graduates and our vibrant community of alumni, we acknowledge each and every person who has helped along the way. Here’s to the next 100!

Are you or someone you know interested in being trained as a peer professional? 
Applications for the Fall 2014 term will be released soon in July! 
Go to to stay in the loop!