Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate ADVANCED COURSE -- Now Accepting Applications for the Winter 2015-2016 Cohort

RAMS is excited to announce that the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program is now accepting applications for its NEW 8-week Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Advanced Course, with classes set to begin on Tuesday, January 26th, 2016!

Funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program (part of the Division of Peer-Based Services at RAMS) provides 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. In addition to the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Entry Level Course that is currently offered, RAMS has designed its Advanced Course to support and educate individuals who are providing, or have recently provided peer-based services to clients in the community (or possess relevant training, volunteer and/or educational experience), and would like to obtain more specialized peer counseling training and professional development opportunities.

We are looking for individuals who: 

  • Are at least 18 years of age and a resident of San Francisco, 
  • Have successfully completed at least a High School education or GED, and 
  • Are able to attend 8 weeks of classes, which will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays (3PM-6PM). 
  • This program is funded by MHSA through San Francisco Behavioral Health Services. As such, the course is targeted to individuals with personal experience with the Community Behavioral Health System of Care and family members. 
  • Individuals with current or past work experience, education, and/or training (including volunteer and advocacy work) in the peer counseling field are highly encouraged to apply 

 Application and Course Timeline: 

  • Friday, November 13th: Application Release 
  • Thursday, November 19th & Tuesday, December 1st: Optional Program Open Houses 
  • Wednesday, December 16th @ 5PM: Application Submission Deadline 
  • Week of January 4th, 2016: Notification of Application Status 
  • Friday, January 15th, 2016: Registration Forms Due for Accepted Applicants 
  • Tuesday, January 26th, 2016: First Day of Class 
  • Thursday, March 17th, 2016: Last Day of Class & Graduation 

Materials are available for download at: http://www.ramsinc.org/peer.php.

Please feel free to contact Program Coordinator, Kristin Snell, at (415) 579-3021 x102, or via email at kristinsnell@ramsinc.org should you have any questions or would like any additional information.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Community Voices: Stories From The Frontline

All RAMS staff, interns, and trainees are invited to this presentation & discussion at the 10th Annual Evelyn Lee Diversity and Cultural Competency Training:

Community Voices: Stories from the Frontline 
Friday, November 13th, 9am – 12pm 
State Building, Milton Marks Auditorium, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco

This presentation will describe grassroots efforts for community and capacity building, strategies for advocacy and community empowerment, and engagement with leaders and legislative groups.

PRESENTERS:  Gordon Chin, MSW, and Robert L. Okin, MD

Robert Okin, MD was chief of service at SFGH Department of Psychiatry; professor of clinical psychiatry at UCSF; and vice chair of the UCSF, School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, where he oversaw the development of crucial services for San Francisco’s most acute & chronic patients with mental health conditions, including the SFGH Department of Psychiatry’s culturally focused inpatient units and Emergency Department Case Management Program (which received the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems’ Safety Net Award in 1999). He has been quoted numerous times in the New York Times, was featured on ABC’s 20/20, and in 2009, he received the American Psychiatric Association’s prestigious Human Rights Award.

Gordon Chin, MSW is the founding Executive Director of San Francisco’s Chinatown Community Development Center, serving in this position until his retirement in October 2011. He has been active in San Francisco’s Chinatown community for over four decades, and has served on many community and civic boards including the national boards of the Center for Community Change, the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, and the SF Public Utilities Commission. Mr. Chin was selected as one of six inaugural fellows for the Fannie Mae Foundation’s James A. Johnson Community Fellows Award, and was one of the community development leaders honored at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Silver Anniversary with a Mike Sviridoff Leadership Award.

If you have any questions about this training, please feel free to contact Angela Tang at angelatang@ramsinc.org or (415) 800-0699.

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hire-Ability: A Light Of The Village

The Mental Health Services Act - San Francisco held its 5th Annual Award Ceremony at the Scottish Rite Masonic Auditorium on October 15, 2015. It was a thoughtfully coordinated event that included stories and poetry from those mental health consumers with lived experience, as well as delightful musical entertainment from pianist, Mr. Walter Earl, and beatbox vocalist, Mr. Carlos Aguirre. With the tagline “It Takes a Village to Recover,” the event celebrated the recovery of over 100 consumers, each of whom received an Achievement in Recovery Award.

It was a big year for RAMS Hire-Ability Vocational Services, which saw its i-Ability Vocational IT Training program receive two distinctions. A graduate of i-Ability, was honored with the MHSA Consumer of the Year Award. His inspiring speech echoed the award ceremony’s sentiment, as he thanked those who were key to his recovery, including RAMS, AA, and his community behavioral health providers.

The i-Ability Vocational IT Training program also received the MHSA Team of the Year Award. The program’s entire staff was welcomed onstage to accept this award, including IT trainers, counselors, peer staff members, and management. RAMS i-Ability provides on-the-job vocational IT training to consumers through its partnership with SF Dept. of Public Health - Behavioral Health Services (BHS), where i-Ability serves as a critical component of the IT operations at BHS.

The i-Ability program will begin recruiting in January 2016 
for IT training cohorts that will begin in April 2016.  
For more information, please contact Nancy Gobaleza, Intake Coordinator
at 415-282-9675 Ext. 207 or nancygobaleza@hire-ability.org

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 peerinternship@ramsinc.org.

  • 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.