Wednesday, August 17, 2011

U.S. Office of Minority Health invites RAMS CEO to first-ever Roundtable Discussion

Kavoos G. Bassiri, RAMS President & CEO, was invited by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health (OMH) to participate in OMH’s first-ever roundtable discussion on addressing health and behavioral health needs through integrated care for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders titled, Integrated Care for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities: A Blueprint for Action.

OMH and its partner, the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA), hosted a two-day meeting (8/15-8/16, 2011) with the goal to bring together a diverse group of health and behavioral health professional and key stakeholders to examine the role of integrated care as a formidable method of care delivery for AANHPI populations, and to formulate recommendations and next steps.  To achieve this goal, OMH and NAAPHIMA, listened to leaders in the field, learned about new and emerging practices, and together formulated recommendations and consensus statements that would be utilized to lay the groundwork for how to approach integrated care for AANHPI populations in the U.S.

Among the participants also included Dr. Alvin Alvarez and Dr. Jean Lau Chin, who serve on the RAMS Board of Directors and the Board's Advisory Council, respectively.  They were invited separately, on their own, for their community involvement and expertise.

RAMS is thankful to OMH and NAAPIMHA to have had the opportunity to be part of this process!

New Resources on AAPI Mental Health Released by NAMI

RAMS is excited to share the recent multi-lingual fact sheets on mental illness issues among the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, released by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This was the result of Listening Session (which we blogged about in November 2010), where RAMS President & CEO Kavoos G. Bassiri joined 20 other participants to discuss the unique needs of the AAPI community.

This new series of NAMI fact sheets are now available in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese with the following titles:
  • Mental Health Issues among Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities
  • Mental Health Issues among Asian American and Pacific Islander Children and Youth
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander Mental Health: A Guide on How to Get Support for Your Loved One
  • Recovery for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Living with Mental Illness

Also, a special “thanks” went out to Dr. Jei Africa, RAMS, and NAMI New Jersey's Chinese American Mental Health Outreach Program for their contributions to the development of these new resources.

Visit to access these new informational resources focused on mental health recovery and support of AAPI adults and youth with specific consideration of cultural factors. Materials were released in honor of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month 2011.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Guest Post - Yuka Hachiuma, LMFT

Today's guest post is from Yuka Hachiuma, LMFT, Mental 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 2011:  The end of another enriching, memorable summer

Where has the summer gone?  It feels like just yesterday that this year’s cohort in the Summer Bridge program was participating in the Fort Miley ropes course, breaking the ice and getting to know each other through various team-building activities.  Fast forward eight weeks to 8/5/11, when we held the graduation ceremony where 19 participants received their certificates of completion and came together one last time to reflect on all they learned and experienced, as well as the time spent together as a group.  
This cohort eagerly took in all that was offered to them in terms of learning about psychology and the helping professions through the numerous guest speakers and field trips in the program.  However, what was most striking about this group is how open they were to new experiences and learning about themselves in the process.  This was reflected in the depth of trust in each other as seen in the way they shared their personal stories in the small group discussions.  It was also evident in their final presentations where they were asked to present what they learned and experienced in the program.  Most of the presentations were of a very personal nature, reflecting on what they have learned and integrating their experiences from this program into the overall narrative of their lives.  But, most significantly, it was seen in the strong relationships that formed amongst program participants, as well as with program staff.  

One of the goals of this program is to foster a mentoring relationship with program graduates in order to nurture them into this profession, and with the bonds formed during this year’s program, we are hopeful that we will be able to maintain relationships with several of the graduates and support them as they take their next steps towards their dreams.  

Speaking of which, there is an exciting new program that is being started by some of last year’s Summer Bridge graduates.  Three graduates co-wrote and developed a grant proposal to the Youth Empowerment Fund to start up The Bridge Project where Bridge Outreach Workers (BOWs) will be expanding on what they learned during Summer Bridge to give presentations at high schools about mental health issues. The three youth leaders have recruited five Summer Bridge graduates (from both cohorts) to serve as BOWs to increase awareness of mental health issues and the stigma associated with them.  They also have future plans to provide peer-led support groups for those seeking support from other youth. So, as can be seen, they are already giving back to their community and taking tangible steps in pursuit of their goal of becoming mental health professionals.  Best of luck to them!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guest Post: Ulash Thakore-Dunlap, LMFT

Greetings from Washington DC!

This August, RAMS was represented in numerous ways at the 2011 annual Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) conference, George Washington University, Washington DC. The theme of this year’s conference was “Expanding Our Horizons: Giving Voice to Underrepresented AAPIs.”

AAPA was founded in 1972 and is the largest organization of faculty, students, researchers, and practitioners interested in Asian American psychology. AAPA members and initiatives have positively impacted psychological treatment, education, training, research, policy and social justice advocacy, through research dissemination, organizational policy statements and collaboration with other psychological organizations for publications, training initiatives, and disseminating resources for serving Asian American communities.

The day began with a keynote address by filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem. Deann discussed her work in documenting the experiences of Korean-American adoptees. The rest of the day was filled with engaging presentations including Integrating Mind and Body: Interventions for Asian American Youth, Hmong American Mental Health and Well-Being, Research as a Vehicle for Social Justice: Implications for South Asian Psychology and more.

RAMS work was represented through presentations, and staff presence and involvement at the conference:

Poster Presentation: “A new training model in Asian American community mental health: Integrating program evaluation and clinical training” by Tai Chang, Eddie Chiu, Yuki Okubo, Rose Sneed, Nicole Mayeda, Jacqueline Nguyen, Kavoos Bassiri, Kwong-Liem Karl Kwan, and Christina Shea. RAMS along with Alliant International University, California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) co-presented this poster which described the RAMS-CSPP clinical research internship which provides Psy.D. students who are interested in Asian American mental health a unique training opportunity that focuses on both clinical work and research/program evaluation.

Conference Session Presentation: “Ecology, Racism, and Psychological Outcomes among Asian Americans” by Hyung Chol Yoo (Arizona State University), Alvin Alvarez (San Francisco State University), Nellie Tran (University of Massachusetts, Lowell), and Tai Chang (California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University). Alvin Alvarez is board member at RAMS.

AAPA Leadership Team and Division Work: Alvin Alvarez is the AAPA Delegate to APA Council. Ulash Thakore-Dunlap (Behavioral Health Counselor, RAMS Wellness Centers Program) is the incoming AAPA Communications Officer and Chair for the Division on South Asian Americans (DoSAA).

Furthermore, RAMS also presented during another Poster Session, titled “Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 for Chinese American population: Initial validation and factor structure” at the 2011 Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington D.C.

It was wonderful to meet the AAPA conference attendees, share our ideas and knowledge on issues affecting the AAPI community. We hope RAMS will be represented again at next year’s conference in Orlando!