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