Friday, December 16, 2011

Graduation Day - Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program Fall 2011

We are so excited to announce the graduation of the Fall 2011 Cohort of the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program on Thursday, December 8th, 2011. This is the third graduating cohort of the program. Friends, family, and members of the behavioral health community gathered on that day to support and celebrate this special occasion with our graduates at the San Francisco State University downtown campus.

Kavoos Bassiri, RAMS CEO, along with Dr. Rob Williams, Chair of the Counseling Department at San Francisco State University, Dr. Mya Vaughn, Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University, and Christine Tam, Program Coordinator, conducted the ceremony to recognize the hard work, dedication, and commitment of the graduates that led them to successfully complete the program.

Throughout the past 12 weeks, students went through an intensive training that taught them the skills and knowledge of being a peer counselor in the field of community behavioral health. They devoted themselves to attending eight hours of lectures each week on topics related to counseling individuals with mental health conditions and/or substance use related issues. In addition to attending class regularly, the program demanded students to spend time outside of class to review lecture materials, complete reading assignments, and work on class projects. Many of the graduates from this cohort faced personal challenges outside of the course throughout these 12 weeks, yet, they continued their hard work and dedication in spite of these challenges to meet the demands the program. Their resilience and ability stay committed are highly commendable.

At this time, graduates are looking for opportunities to continue their pursuit in the field of community behavioral health. Several of them have already expressed interest in further education in the field while others have started the process of looking for employment and internship opportunities. We look forward to hearing from them as they continue to develop professionally. We anticipate hearing many future contributions to the community by this graduating class. .

The next cohort for the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program will begin in April 2012. Details about how to apply for the next cohort will become available in January 2012. Please contact Program Coordinator, Christine Tam at (415) 668 – 5955 x386 or for additional information.

Youth Council Fall 2011

In September of this year, Youth Council reconvened with vigor and new faces. This year’s Youth Council has 9 youth attendees and two RAMS staff advisors who meet once a month to discuss mental health services and issues pertinent to the adolescent and young adult population. The opinions and perspectives of youth participants are gathered to better address the delivery service within RAMS and the larger CBHS system. Over the past months, we have screened clips from the documentary, “Race to Nowhere” (2009), discussed the academic pressures that our teens face and explored tips for self-care and connecting teens to mental health services. Sai-Ling Chan-Sew, LCSW, RAMS Clinical Supervisor/Consultant and also former Director of the Child, Youth and Family System-of-Care, Community Behavioral Health Services, visited and joined our discussion regarding stress management.

In 2012, the Youth Council will be accepting new members who have an interest in participating in this program. If you know of a youth who would be a good fit, please contact Nira Singh, PsyD. or Stephanie Chen, Ph.D. at (415) 668-5955 for more information. For a sneak peek--topics of the new year will include teen-friendly recruitment and outreach strategies as Summer Bridge will start gearing up for their third year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yahoo! Employee Foundation (YEF) awarded a sizable grant to RAMS

We are extremely pleased to announce a $32,430 generous grant award from the Yahoo! Employee Foundation (YEF), a donor-advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, to RAMS.

The YEF funding will support the high school-based trauma/grief & loss counseling and outreach services RAMS provides through the Wellness Centers. Over the course of the past 10 years of providing bilingual & bicultural services at the high school-based Wellness Centers, RAMS has identified gaps in service delivery for interventions for trauma/grief & loss. Community linkages have proven challenging due to the severe lack of resources for students & families, especially for those living in poverty. In the 2010-2011 school year, about 200 students receiving services through RAMS Wellness Centers’ Behavioral Health Counselors reported being affected by community violence and 450 youth reported grief & loss as one of their main issues. As issues of community violence occur abruptly, having enhanced trauma/grief & loss counseling services greatly strengthen the capacity of schools and the community to intervene. By intervening early and helping students identify feelings and learn strategies to manage strong emotions, we can enable them to function academically and socially in their lives. Furthermore, by providing immediate intervention, we aim to prevent or lessen the biological responses to trauma that often create academic barriers that snowball to close off further education and/or vocational opportunities. In the long term, students are taught coping and de-escalation skills to ameliorate the effects of trauma/grief & loss. Through community building and teaching positive coping skills, we aim to reduce at-risk behaviors including isolation, substance use/abuse, violence and retaliation while increasing retention in school and promoting academic success.

With the YEF funding, there will be enhanced capacity and resources to meet these growing needs of adolescents who are impacted by trauma, grief, and loss issues. Speaking about this grant, Kristin Chun, LMFT, RAMS Director of Behavioral Health Services at Wellness Centers said, “We are truly honored to have the inspiring support of YEF. In a time when economic support for community services is compromised, it’s invaluable to have acknowledgement from the private sector that supporting students to succeed emotionally and academically in schools is a priority. “

Founded in 1999, YEF, one of Yahoo! Inc.’s social responsibility programs is a unique grassroots philanthropic organization that brings together the talents, time, and financial resources of Yahoo! employees to serve the needs of communities around the globe. YEF is a unique foundation that is entirely employee driven and all the money is donated by employees as well as all the activities are run by a volunteer committee of Yahoo! employees.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to RAMS Board of Director member and Yahoo! employee Ms. Pueng Vongs for championing this grant.

Monday, November 14, 2011

API Circle Holiday Celebration!

Once again, RAMS is very pleased to be a community supporter of the exciting & fun API Circle event. The API Circle is an alliance of San Francisco Bay Area Asian & Pacific Islander American leaders and organizations with the mission to create meaningful relationships and collaborative efforts that are cross-generational, ideologically neutral and diversely representative.

The first API Circle’s project was the Asian Pacific American Closing Night Celebration which was held at Carnelian by the Bay in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 in conjunction with over 30 community partner sponsors, generous food donors, and over 50 co-hosts, supporters, and volunteers as well as over 600 guests in attendance. As a follow-up to the last very successful event, the next project is an end of the year holiday celebration gathering and the planning is currently underway!

When: Thursday, December 1 • 6:30pm - 9:00pm
Where: Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 Ninth Street, Suite 290, Oakland, CA

Your co-hosts are in the planning stages right now, but expect the same wonderful features ...
- GREAT people
- TERRIFIC co-hosts and co-sponsoring organizations
- AWESOME entertainment
- highlighting & supporting community non-profits and their work
- food & drinks
- raffle drawings

All are welcome so please help us spread the word by inviting your friends to attend too! Guests need not be over 21.


This will be inter-generational & multi-ethnic event and just a whole lot of fun!

Your co-hosts:
Chris Chang - Christopher Do - Claire Chang - Colbert Tse - Doreen Lew - Jason Kwan - Jenny Lau - Jonathan Leong - Kavoos Bassiri - Keesa Ocampo - Manufou 'Fou' Liaiga-Anoai - Melanie Lew - Nwe Oo - Paul Yep - Ron Lee - Rose Chung - Ryan Takemiya - Sandra Siharath - Stephanie Balon Wong - Taiko Fujimura - Tamiko Wong (Partial list)

Community supporters:
American Legion Cathay Post #384 - Asian American Donor Program (AADP) - Asian Peace Officers Association (APOA) - Bay Area Benefit - Books for the Barrios - Community Health for Asian Americans (CHAA)- Genki for Japan - JAB - Lunar Giving Circle - National Association of Asian American Professionals - San Francisco (NAAAP-SF) - Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) - Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition (PAAWBAC) - Pacific Islander Community Partnership-SF Samoa - RAMA - RAMS, Inc. - SEACHAMPA (South East Asian Cultural Heritage & Musical Performing Arts) - - Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL) - Taiwanese American Professionals (TAP) - Wa Sung Community Service Club - Weaving Through Change (As of this date)

Business Supporters:
Blue Salud Special Events - Merriwether & Williams Insurance Services - Jewelry by TR (As of this date)

P.S. This location is close to BART, paid parking for $2/hour is available downstairs, and there should also be some street parking available but carpooling is suggested (greener and it's more fun, right?).

Attire: Ethnic or cocktail (which means more fun than business attire) suggested - but business or business casual is fine too.
Things are just getting started so please let API Circle know if you can help in either of the following ways:

Hope we will see you on December 1st!

Photo credit - Mukumbura on Flickr

Monday, October 31, 2011

Supporting Immigrant Students

American classrooms have become increasingly diverse. Immigrants and refugees now comprise over 20 percent of the students in U.S. public schools, and this percentage is expected to grow to 30 percent by 2015. The number of English language learners has also increased, doubling in size from 1995 to 2005.*

Students who are first, second, third and even fourth generation immigrants may encounter (and continue to encounter) emotional, social and academic challenges.

Galileo High School’s Wellness Center team members Ulash Dunlap, LMFT (RAMS Behavioral Health Counselor) and Deborah Bryant, RN contributed to a publication titled “Strategies for Engaging Immigrant and Refugees Families.” This is a document produced by National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention and published by Education Development Center in July, 2011. The publication interviews individuals and schools across the country and is a wonderful resource for our school community. Below it is a summary of some of the educational, emotional and social lessons learned in working with immigrant students. Hope you find this information useful in your work!

Social and Emotional Challenges of Immigrant Students and Families

• Many families have experienced separations for extended periods as children are sent ahead to live with relatives, or parents emigrate first in order to establish a life before sending for their families.
• There is the stress of moving to a new environment and culture. Immigrant families face the challenge of adapting to a new culture and learning new rules and roles.
• Families may experience conflict between generations as children and youth often acculturate more quickly than their parents.
• Many parents experience the stress of not being able to speak the language. They may experience adult and child role reversals when children learn English more quickly and need to act as interpreters and negotiators with health care and school officials.
• Lack of involvement in the immigration process: students not involved in the moving process may exhibit anger towards parents.

• Most immigrant families deeply care about their children’s education and health. However, many immigrants often show respect for schools by keeping their distance; the unspoken norm in many countries outside of the United States is that it is the teacher’s job is to educate their children, and thus it is disrespectful to a teacher’s expertise for parents to participate.
• Other factors that may influence parental engagement are parent’s limited English language proficiency, parent’s negative perceptions of the school environment, work schedules, limited formal education, lack of resources and ability to help their children with homework.
• Social isolation from language/cultural barriers can lead to truancy, gang involvement, depression, and other mental health issues.
• Emphasis on high academic performance can cause anxiety and stress for the student.
• Lack of positive role models that can relate to immigrant youth’s unique up-bringing and experience; makes developing a positive self-identity and hope for the future more difficult.

• Grief and loss issues: leaving family members, friends, and communities behind, losing previous socio-economic status, social or cultural identities, or transitioning from dominant to minority group consciousness, may create a sense of loss. Immigrant students may also experience resentment, stress, anxiety, discrimination, and hostility in their new communities.
• The notion of a healthy kid may be different from the Western idea of “healthy adolescent development.” For example, in some cultures, being a healthy kid means to not talk about problems outside the family.
• Language barriers: frustration in being misunderstood, teasing by peers can create loneliness and isolation.

Here Are Some Strategies Staff Might Find Helpful:
• Provide opportunities for immigrant students to tell their stories. Share those stories with the school community (during faculty or department meetings, postings on the school web site and/or G-House TV).
• Recognize that it may take five to seven years for students to learn how to read and write in English. Take this into account as you create and grade class work and tests.
• Mental health issues may arise as a result of exposure to war, dislocation, acculturation, and fear of deportation. To avoid stigma, don’t use the labels “mental health or “mental illness.” Refer students to the Wellness Program for counseling.
• Consider becoming a mentor. A mentoring relationship with an adult can help children to sustain hope and enhance engagement in school.

If you would like more information or get a downloadable copy, you can also visit the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention web site at:

Source * Morse, A. (2005, March). A look at immigrant youth: Prospects and promising practices. National Conference of State Legislatures, Children’s Policy Initiative.

Friday, October 21, 2011

RAMS Hire-Ability Vocational Services: A salute to our Production business partners

Our Hire-Ability Vocational Services is well known for the Employment Services, Employee Development, CafĂ© Phoenix, Vocational IT and Janitorial training programs. However, less is known about our business venture & the businesses that support the soft skills training and assessment program that provide individuals with mental health conditions paid work while working on their soft skills and other barriers to gain competitive employment.

For about 10 years, Mosaic Mercantile has been a close production business partner and continues to be the main vendor of Hire-Ability. Hire-Ability is the main source of workforce labor for Mosaic Mercantile and continues to meet their needs through packaging, labeling and preparing craft kits. Most of their items are sold through nationwide craft stores such as Michaels Arts & Crafts and Beverly’s Fabrics and Crafts.

Besides Mosaic Mercantile, our Hire-Ability production vendors include Living Intentions, an organic food company whose products are distributed through Whole Foods Market and Draegers Market. University of California San Francisco and University of the Pacific are two other vendors that we continually do business with, by packaging supplies for both dental schools. Other vendors that we are proud to partner with are Flax Art & Designs, Glob, KFOG and Open Door Products. Flax Art & Designs has recently added the Hire-Ability’s logo on their select craft paper items labels which are sold through their online business and retail stores.

These businesses provide revenue necessary to enhance our clients’ training and assessments through paid work activity. If you are interested in being a vendor with Hire-Ability, please contact Ms. Bin Bin Chen at 415.282.9675 xt.233 or If you would like to gain more information on referring clients to our programs or to have a tour of our facility, please contact our Intake Coordinator at 415.282.9675 xt.207.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fox and Jewel, November 18-20, 2011

As part of their Fall 2011 Season, GenRyu Arts, together with Asian Improv aRts and JCCCNC, presented Tsukimi Matsuri at San Francisco’s Japantown Peace Plaza on October 15. This featured GenRyu Arts-Gen Taiko & Odori, and master artist Hideko Nakajima and Hideki Kai, Kaala Carmack and the J-town Hui, Francis Wong, Todd Nakagawa, Ravi Chandra, and other artists.

Coming up in November, music, poetry, animation and drama will combine for a feast of the senses! Fox and Jewel is a modern retelling of a Japanese fox myth in support of Japantown. As San Francisco prepares to redevelop Japantown, fears abound as to what redevelopment will do to the spirit of this vibrant community. This fun and timely collaboration arose as an expression of community concern. Featuring taiko artist/dancer/choreographer Melody Takata, poet and writer Ravi Chandra, actor/comedian Todd Nakagawa, shamisen/taiko/jazz artist Tatsu Aoki, composer/jazz artist Francis Wong, Gen Ryu Arts cast, filmmaker Adebukola Bodunrin, and lighting designer Patty Ann Farrell.

Fox and Jewel will be held from November 18 through 20th at the Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th Street.  For more info and tickets to this event, click HERE.

Dr. Ravi Chandra, who is one of the collaboratoring artists with Gen Ryu, is also a Medical Director at RAMS.  His most recent book of poetry A Fox Peeks Out, described as " meditations on spirituality, life and technology", will also be available at a discount at the Fox and Jewel performance.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Remembering Mary Jane Hipe

It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of our beloved staff, Ms. Mary Jane T. Hipe, M.A. Ms. Hipe passed away on September 28th in San Francisco. Although she was battling health related conditions for some years, which she bravely handled & coped with, her passing was so sudden and is a shock to us. We mourn her loss and will always cherish the memories of her and working with her.

Ms. Hipe began her employment at RAMS, as a Mental Health Counselor, back in 1996 and has been working with us since then until her sudden passing. As a Mental Health Counselor, bilingual in Tagalog and Waray-Visayan dialect, she worked in various capacities over the years, working at RAMS Adult Outpatient Services Clinic and Child, Youth & Family Outpatient Services as well as working offsite at various sites providing counseling and consultation services (such as Balboa Teen Health Center and West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service, Inc.). Additionally, when not at RAMS, she worked as a Therapist at Daly City Youth Health Center for 12 years, where she counseled students at two different high schools. Ms. Hipe worked tirelessly to serve those in need and worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of clients and families as well as school personnel, teachers, and administrators. Also, before moving to the United States, she had worked for about a decade as a Guidance Counselor and Psychometrician in the Philippines.

Jane was a truly genuine, talented, compassionate, skilled, and effective counselor. She thought deeply about her work and maintained a steadfast commitment to work in community settings, year after year. She was seen as a leader & major resource to the community, especially the Filipino-American community. Jane had presented at various conferences, conducted & facilitated many workshops, and received many awards & acknowledgements. Among the various recognitions, she received a Certificate of Honor from San Francisco Board of Supervisors for her selfless contribution of time & expertise and strengthening Pilipino families, and she received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Healthy Start Program for her hard work & dedication. She loved her work and working with people, always making a positive difference in other people’s lives. She cared about everyone and was always so generous with her time, kind words, thoughtfulness, and giving greeting cards & little gifts at different occasions.

We extend our sincere condolences to her family, friends, and co-workers as well as those who knew & worked with her over the years. We will sorely miss her and her positive presence, but we will never forget her and will always keep her spirit alive.

Information on Visitation/Vigil/Funeral:
Friends are invited to visit after 4:00pm on Monday, October 3rd, 2011 and visit after 4:00pm on Tuesday, October 4th with a Vigil Service at 7:00pm on Tuesday, all at Duggan's Serra Mortuary, 500 Westlake Ave., Daly City.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, October 5th at 10:30am at St. Andrew Church, 1571 Southgate Ave., Daly City.
As we have been advised, in lieu of flowers donations may be made to Daly City Youth Center, 2780 Junipero Serra Blvd., Daly City, CA 94015-1634 or RAMS, 3626 Balboa St., San Francisco, CA 94121.

Friends are encouraged and more than welcome to leave condolences online at the Duggans Memorial Guestbook HERE.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

RAMS receives 2011 Community Service Award!

RAMS is grateful for receiving the 2011 Community Service Award from the Greater Geary Boulevard Merchants & Property Owners Association.  This award was presented at their annual luncheon on Sept. 14th.  We are proud to serve the Richmond District and San Francisco for 37 years!

As recipient of the award, RAMS was also presented with a 2011 Toyota Sienna donated by SF Toyota and its generous owner Mr. Horton.  RAMS is truly honored to receive this Community Service Award from the Association (Mr. Heller, President) and is very thankful to SF Toyota for their generosity! 

RAMS Lends its Support!

RAMS is pleased to be a co-sponsor and community supporter for two upcoming community events:

2011 San Francisco Mayoral Candidates Forum
WHEN:  Wednesday, September 28 6:30pm - 8:30pm
WHERE:  Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny Street (3rd floor of the Hilton Hotel), SF
WHAT:  Presented by Chinese for Affirmative Action, this event will be moderated by: Vincent Pan, Chinese for Affirmative Action; Sarah Wan, Community Youth Center; and Kwokshu Leung, KTSF 26

Co-Sponsoring Organizations: Chinese Culture Center; API Budget Coalition; SF Rising Alliance; and Gay Asian Pacific Alliance 

Advancing Justice Conference 2001: Strengthening the legacy of Asian American and Pacific Islander Activism
WHEN:  October 27-28, 2011. 
WHERE:  Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
WHAT:  This 3rd Annual Conference includes exciting workshops: 1) Civil and Human Right, 2) Capacity Building, 3) Youth Leadership & Community Organizing, and 4) Immigrant Integration & Civic Participation.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

RAMS Welcomes this year’s Interns and Trainees Group!

True to the RAMS commitment to fostering the next generation of culturally competent clinicians, each year the agency offers internships throughout the various programs.  We welcome this year’s new intern and trainee group!  We look forward to year of learning, growth, and opportunities.

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!

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's time for Bridge - Summer Bridge!

Despite the unseasonal’s Summer Bridge time again!

RAMS-Summer Bridge is back for another summer of giving youth an opportunity to dip their toes into the vast waters of psychology and explore the varied career options in the field of mental health.  For those of you unfamiliar with this relatively new program, it is an eight-week summer mentoring program for current and recently graduated San Francisco public high school students age 16-20 who are interested in psychology and want to explore career opportunities in the field.  This is the second summer that RAMS is offering the program and we are off to a good start!  We received over 50 applications for the 20-30 slots we had, and we currently have 19 participants who are well on their way to completing the program.  

The program participants meet 12 hours a week at our partner location, Horizons Unlimited in the Mission.  They are hearing presentations by guest speakers on topics ranging from identity, self-expression, mental health and stigma, LGBTQIQ issues among adolescents and their families, body image and self-esteem, and personal stories from professionals in the field of mental health.  The participants have also gone on various field trips:  a RAMS staff training on racism and mental health, a visit to SFDPH/CBHS, a tour of San Francisco State University and meetings with undergraduate and graduate faculty members, and an introduction to our very own RAMS Child, Youth and Families Outpatient Clinic to learn about psychotherapy and the youth-oriented services provided by the agency.  With so much learning taking place in such a short period of time, we are also providing space for participants to reflect on what they’re experiencing and opportunities to get to know themselves and each other in the process.  This is done through numerous ice breaker activities, experiential activities, and small group discussions.

It’s hard to believe that we are already midway through our program.  There is still a lot more to learn and experiences to be had...oh, and hopefully a lot of fun along the way too!  Stay tuned for another blog entry at the end of the program....

Ropes Course...Getting to Know (and Trust) Each Other!

It comes Full Circle!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nurturing the Next Generation of Culturally Competent Clinicians

The RAMS Summer Bridge program presented a workshop at the Northern Region Cultural Competence and Mental Health Summit XVII titled, “Promoting Equity in Health Services:  The Power of Community Based Services.”  The presentation, which was held on June 27, 2011, was given by RAMS Summer Bridge Program Coordinator Yuka Hachiuma, MFT, and RAMS Deputy Chief & Director of Clinical Services Christina Shea, MFT, along with two program graduates.

The presentation introduced the audience to the overarching mission of the Summer Bridge program, which is to nurture the next generation of culturally sensitive, linguistically competent, clinicians.  Christina Shea spoke of how she experienced the lack of such clinicians in the workforce as an issue that could be addressed by providing a mentoring program that reaches out to youth from under-represented communities and introducing them to psychology and the various career opportunities in the helping professions.  Yuka Hachiuma explained how the program was designed and implemented in its pilot year, and described the curriculum and how it was made possible through numerous partnerships with other providers in the community.  The program is funded by the Mental Health Services Act. 

One program graduate shared his experience in the program, and how it changed perception of himself and encouraged him to apply to college instead of going into the military.  He shared that he will be starting at San Francisco State University in the fall and is planning to study nursing or psychology in hopes of becoming a pediatrician in the future.  Another program graduate shared her experience of the program, which allowed her to focus her interest in psychology to becoming a psychotherapist in the future.  She also spoke of her continued involvement with RAMS through joining the Youth Council and starting her own youth-led organization that builds on what she learned in Summer Bridge, called the Bridge Project.  

The presentation was enthusiastically received by the audience who asked numerous questions and expressed excitement for this novel approach to increasing cultural competence in the field of mental health. Several audience members were eager to find out how to implement similar programs in their communities, which bodes well for the future of our profession.  

Christina Shea speaking about the need for programs such as Summer Bridge

Yuka Hachiuma describes the Summer Bridge program

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fu Yau Project Summer Newsletter

Check out the latest Fu Yau Times, a semi-annual newsletter with great articles and tips on parenting and resources for the community. Check it out by clicking HERE.

About the Fu Yau Project:
The Fu Yau Project is one of the many Child, Youth & Family Services offered at RAMS. It is a collaboration of RAMS and Chinatown Child Development Center (CCDC) and is located at 720 Sacramento Street, in San Francisco's Chinatown district. This innovative program provides prevention and early intervention mental health services to the childcare community that cares for children, ages 0-5 years old. Services includes the following: On-Site Program and Child Observation; Clinical Consultation with childcare staff and families; On-Site Intervention with individual and groups of children; Parenting Classes and Support Groups; and In-Service Training for the childcare staff relating to child development and mental health related issues. The Fu Yau Project staff includes child psychiatrists, licensed and license-tracked clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and marriage and family therapists, all of whom reflect the unique language skills and cultural competence needed to provide services for the children, families, and teaching staff of the childcare programs.

Through the Fu Yau Project, RAMS currently provides services at more than 44 childcare centers, 12 family childcare providers, four family resource centers, and one after school site, which are located in over nine San Francisco neighborhoods.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Graduation Day - Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program

Today's guest post is from Christine Tam, Coordinator of the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate program being offered by RAMS and San Francisco State University. 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". 

 The Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program is excited to announce the successful completion of the Spring 2011 Cohort!  Twelve graduates proudly marched to the music of Pomp and Circumstance on Thursday, May 26th at the graduation ceremony held at the San Francisco State University Downtown Campus.  Over fifty guests, including friends and family of the graduates, guest instructors of the course, and members from the behavioral health community, attended the graduation ceremony to celebrate this momentous event.

The Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program, a collaboration between RAMS, inc. and San Francisco State University’s Department of Counseling, offers a university level course that prepares individuals to enter into the field of community behavioral health as direct service providers. 

For twelve weeks, each graduate devoted eight hours each week to attend lectures on topics related to developing counseling skills in working with individuals with a mental health diagnoses and/or substance abuse issues.  In addition to the in-class lectures, students spent hours outside of the classroom to review lecture materials, complete reading assignments, and work on class projects.  Students’ understanding of the materials was rigorously tested throughout the course through quizzes, exams, written assignments, and in-class presentations.  The twelve graduates from this cohort committed a tremendous amount of hard work over these weeks, many of whom exceeded the expectations and demands of the course. 
Robert Williams, PhD, Department of Counseling Chair at SFSU, addresses the Graduates and their guests at the Graduation Ceremony.
At this time, our spring graduates are actively seeking employment and volunteer opportunities to utilize the knowledge and skills they have learned from the course.  In fact, one graduate has already been offered a full-time position as a Peer Counselor at an agency in the East Bay! 

Congratulations Spring 2011 Cohort!  We look forward to hearing more of your future successes and the many ways you will be contributing to the communities across the San Francisco Bay Area. 

The next cohort for the Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program will begin in September of 2011.  Applications will be accepted starting July of 2011.  Please contact Program Coordinator, Christine Tam at (415) 668 – 5955 x386 or for additional details.   

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Trainings & Presentations in June 2011


WHEN: Thursday, June 16, 2011. 9:30am - 1:00pm
WHERE: Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, 1663 Mission Street, 7th Floor
WHAT: Together with Asian Pacific Islander Family Resource Network (APIFRN) and other API-focused service providers in the community, RAMS shall once again be co-leading a Cultural Competency training on June 16, 2011 titled "Celebrating API Cultures". The aim of the workshop is to increase awareness of and sensitivity to the complexity of how culture of origin and immigration interface with family's priorities and needs. Panelists will represent the Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Samoan, and Vietnamese cultures, and food selections from all ethnic groups will be served for lunch.
Click on the image above to enlarge the flyer.


WHEN: Monday June 27 - Tuesday June 28, 2011
WHERE: Doubletree by Hilton San Jose, 2050 Gateway Place San Jose, CA 95110
WHAT:  This will be a workshop by RAMS at the Northern Region Cultural Competency Summit - 'Promoting Equity in Health Services: The Power of Community Based Solutions'.  Learn about the pilot year of the RAMS Summer Bridge program, a summer mentorship program for under-represented San Francisco high school students designed to increase awareness of psychological well-being and foster interest in pursuing a career in the helping professions.  This will be presented by RAMS Summer Bridge Program Coordinator Yuka Hachiuma, LMFT, and RAMS Deputy Chief & Director of Clinical Services Christina Shea, LMFT.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Closing Night Event - Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2011

Please join RAMS and other community organizations for the last Asian Pacific American Heritage Month event of 2011!  This inter-generational multi-ethnic event shall feature live performances, happy hour specials all night, announcements, and delicious ethnic food. All are welcome so please help us spread the love by inviting your friends to attend too!


WHAT: APA Heritage Month Closing Night Celebration
WHEN:  Tuesday, May 31, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
WHERE: Carnelian By the Bay, 1 Ferry Plaza (behind the Ferry Building), San Francisco.  Close to Embarcadero MUNI/BART.  $5 valet parking.

Your co-hosts: 
Aaron Rora - Angela Pang - Caitlyn Chi - Chris Chang - Christine Hsu - Christine Padilla - Claire Chang - Cliff Yee - Edmond Hui - Frank Chui - Ho Chie Tsai - Irene Kao - James Feng - Jenny Yu - Kavoos Bassiri - Keesa Ocampo - Manufou 'Fou' Liaiga-Anoai - Mary Nicely - Myron Lee - Paul Yep - Plunket Phommachanh - Rich 'Juebop' Jue - Ron Lee - Samson Wong - Sandra Siharath - Shaun Tai - Sourichanh (Sirch) Chanthyasack - Stephanie Balon Wong - Steve Liu - Steven Lee - Susan Lee - Susie Willemsz-Geeroms - Tamiko Wong

Community co-sponsors:
3rd I Film Festival - Asian American 20s & 30s Meetup - Asian American Business Connection Meetup (AABC) - Asian Business League - San Francisco (ABL-SF) - American Legion Cathay Post No. 384 - Asian Peace Officers' Association (APOA) - AsianWeek Foundation (AWF) - Bay Area Asians Meetup - Burma Education Fund - Cherry Blossom Alumnae (CBA) - East of Main Street - Fa'atasi - Hyphen Magazine - Indonesian Day 2011 - Korean American Professional Society (KAPS) - Laotian American National Alliance (LANA) - Mission District Re-Entry Center for Youth (MDRCY) - Nakayoshi Young Professionals (NYP) - OCA-SF (Organization of Chinese Americans - SF) - ORIENTED.COM - Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition (PAAWBAC) - RAMA - Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc (RAMS, Inc) - SEACHAMPA (South East Asian Cultural Heritage & Musical Performing Arts) - SF Asian Professionals Meetup - SF Cantonese Enthusiasts Meetup - SF Samoa-Pacific Islander Community Partnership - Shelter Network - -, Inc. - Young Filipino Professionals Association (YFPA)

Business supporters:
4fifteen clothing - Alido’s Restaurant (donating lumpia!) - Bok Choy Apparel (selling items!) - Blue Salud Special Events (helping with logistics!) - Burmese Kitchen (donating cold Burmese Salad called Nan gyi thoke) - Fight Life - New Delhi Restaurant (donating mini-samosas!) - Sugar Bowl Bakery (donating brownie bites!) - Usagi Team (selling doggie clothes, wine accessories, and hand-made bags!)

Charles Wang (cellist) - Cynthia Lin and the Blue Moon All Stars - Kariktan Dance Company - Michelle Martinez - Traditional Burmese Dancer Using Oil Lamps - Visitacion Valley Ukulele Club

Angela Tang - Jackie Hwang - Karah To - Q Thang Do - Scott Kong - Sherry Wong - Susan Wong - Vicki Hsu

Poster by Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute

Friday, May 27, 2011

House Leader Nancy Pelosi meets with API Budget Coalitions

Press Release from Chinatown Community Development Center

SAN FRANCISCO (May 27, 2011) – Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi and over 40 community-based leaders from the Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) Budget Coalitions (which includes RAMS) met to discuss federal budget priorities for API low-income families, youth and seniors. Representatives from the Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Laotian and Samoan American communities from across San Francisco attended. Leader Pelosi declared her strong support for the three federal budget priorities articulated by the group: the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG), Social Security Supplemental Income program (SSI), and Medicare.

Following a presentation by Patsy Tito, Executive Director of the Samoan Community Development Center, on the importance of CDBG funding to API communities, Rep. Pelosi acknowledged that the CDBG program must be protected because it forms the underyling foundation for critical local programs.  This is particularly true in San Francisco. CDBG funds nearly every API serving non-profit in the city of San Francisco. These services range from affordable housing to senior, youth, and family support programs.

Leader Pelosi also supported the priority to defend SSI from Republican attempts to raid and deplete the program. Anni Chung, Executive Director of Self-Help for the Elderly, presented on behalf of the community groups, and pointed out that for many API seniors, over 90% of their income comes from SSI.

Leader Pelosi finally urged API community leaders to oppose the current Republican attempt to privatize portions of Medicare after Kent Woo, Executive Director of the NICOS Chinese Health Coalition, presented.

About the Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) Budget Coalitions
The Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) Budget Coalitions is a San Francisco based “coalition of coalitions” formed to coordinate and advocate on government budget policy issues on behalf of vulnerable Asian and Pacific Islander communities. We consist of seven different citywide and neighborhood based Asian and Pacific Islander coalitions focusing on a broad range of issues impacting API’s. Our coalitions and their individual members provide social services and programming on a citywide basis to nearly every vulnerable API community in the City. Collectively, our coalitions include nearly 80 non-overlapping, individual organizations, institutions, and/or agencies.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Peer Leadership & Support

RAMS Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate Program was invited to present at the Mayor's Disability Council meeting which took place on Friday May 20.  The topics discussed at the meeting were on Mental Health Issues, Peer Leadership, and Peer Support.  Christine Tam, Program Coordinator, gave an overview of the program's history and how it was created, student demographics, the current status of the program, and the successes experienced by the students in the program during their class experience and after graduation.
Christine Tam speaks in front of the Mayor's Disability Council

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Week of Mental Health Awareness

There was a whirlwind of activity at RAMS last week in celebration of Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day on May 10, as well as the national Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month which both occur in May.  A brief recap:

Monday, May 9:  The College of San Mateo presented an Asian Pacific American Mental Health Awareness Panel, featuring a panel presentation from RAMS staff about the importance of mental health and culturally-competent services in the A/PI community, working in the mental health profession, as well as challenges and issues specific to the A/PI communities.

Presenting at the College of San Mateo:
(L to R) Kavoos Bassiri, Dr. Stephanie Chen, Dr. Shyamsunda​r Kotagal, Can Nguyen

Tuesday, May 10:  On Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day, RAMS presented an all day training event titled "Asian Pacific American Mental Health: Knowing Our Roots and Growing Beyond".  This widely anticipated event was filled to capacity with over 200 registrants, and was a great success.  To kick-off the event, Mayor Edwin M. Lee addressed the audience on the importance of mental health and the Asian Pacific American community. Supervisor Eric Mar, who along with Senator Leland Yee was instrumental in establishing Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day, also addressed the audience in the early afternoon.
This all-day training featured an exciting panel of presenters that are recognized leaders, trailblazers, and legends in the field of mental health and working with Asian Pacific Americans:
• Alvin N. Alvarez, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Counseling, SF State University; Past President, Asian American Psychological Association
• Jean Lau Chin, PhD, ABPP, Professor, Adelphi University
• DJ Ida, PhD, Executive Director, National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
• Stanley Sue, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director, Center on Excellence in Diversity, Palo Alto University
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar

Dr. Alvin Alvarez

(L to R) Dr. DJ Ida, Kavoos Bassiri, Dr. Jean Lau Chin, and Dr. Stanley Sue
As an added bonus for this auspicious day, the San Francisco Giants flashed the message "Happy Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day - May 10" on the AT&T Park scoreboard during the 3rd inning of the SF Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks game.  It was a winning game for the Giants as well!

Thursday, May 12: Staff from the RAMS Wellness Centers Program were speakers at the 2011 California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists Annual Conference.  The title of the presentation is “Lessons Learned: Providing Creative Tools for Working in School-Based Services to Meet the Needs of Diverse Youth”.  RAMS Behavioral Health Counselors Ulash Thakore-Dunlap, MS, Shana Averbach, MS, Alissa Gunsberg, MA, Mia Gutfreund, MA, and Rebecca Peng, MS, as well as Program Director Kristin Chun, LMFT, presented on Thursday May 12, on behalf of RAMS.

Wellness Centers staff presenting at CAMFT: (L to R) Shana Averbach, Alissa Gunsberg, Kristin Chun, Mia Gutfreund, Rebecca Peng, and Ulash Thakore-Du​nlap

Saturday, May 14: RAMS was a co-sponsor along with Senator Leland Yee, Supervisor Eric Mar, Kaiser Permanente, Self-Help For The Elderly, San Francisco Recreation & Parks, and Compassionate Community Care for the 7th Annual 2011 Richmond District Community Health Festival. The Health Festival featured FREE clinical health services as well as giveaways, food, health education offered by more than 40 community health organizations, children’s activities and family fun.

RAMS at the Richmond District Health Festival:
(L to R) Christy Tam, Paul Lee, Kristina Bang, Mark Gavartin

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 10 is Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day!

PRESS RELEASE - RAMS Honors Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day - May 10

Who: Honorable Edwin M. Lee, Mayor, City and County of San Francisco
Kavoos G. Bassiri, President and CEO, Richmond Area Multi-Services

Where: State Building
455 Golden Gate Ave, Milton Marks Auditorium (Lower Level)
San Francisco, CA, 94102

When: Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Press Time (9:00 – 9:30 am)

SAN FRANCISCO – In honoring this year’s Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day on May 10th, Richmond Area Multi-Services, Inc. (RAMS) is holding an all day training event Asian Pacific American Mental Health: Knowing Our Roots and Growing Beyond.

To kick-off the event, Mayor Edwin M. Lee will be addressing 200+ guests on the importance of mental health and the Asian Pacific American community. Board of Supervisor Eric Mar is scheduled to also address the audience in the early afternoon. This all-day training features an exciting panel of presenters that are recognized leaders, trailblazers, and legends in the field of mental health and working with Asian Pacific Americans:
• Leland Y. Yee, Ph.D, California State Senator; Psychologist
• Alvin N. Alvarez, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Counseling, SF State University; Past President, Asian American Psychological Association
• Jean Lau Chin, PhD, ABPP, Professor, Adelphi University
• DJ Ida, PhD, Executive Director, National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
• Stanley Sue, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director, Center on Excellence in Diversity, Palo Alto University

Asian American Mental Health Facts:
• Approximately 25% of Americans in a given year are impacted by mental health conditions regardless of gender, age, race, religion and socioeconomic status (National Institute of Mental Health)
• Asian American girls have the highest rates of depressive symptoms of any racial/ethnic or gender group
• Asian American women ages 15-24 have a higher rate of suicide than Caucasians, African Americans and Latinos in that age group (Center for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics)
• Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders appear to have extremely low utilization of mental health services relative to other U.S. populations (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
• Among elderly women of all ethnic or racial groups, Asian Americans have the highest suicide rate (Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Suicide)
• The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States. Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, and suicide. (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
• The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

About Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day:
Establishment of Asian Pacific American
Mental Health Day in 2010

The establishment of Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day was an effort spearheaded by RAMS along with California State Senator Leland Y. Yee, Ph.D. and San Francisco Board of Supervisor
Eric Mar. It was first established in 2010, as declared by the State of California and the City and County of San Francisco, recognizing the importance of raising awareness about mental health in the Asian Pacific American community.
On the floor of the State Senate

“Since May is already established nationally as the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, instituting this day in May more closely aligns both awareness efforts,” says Kavoos G. Bassiri, President and CEO of RAMS, Inc.