Condemnation of Anti-Asian Incidents of Hate

RAMS condemns the recent surge in violence against the Asian community, including last night’s shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, which left eight victims dead, six of whom were Asian women. Although details are continuing to emerge in this investigation, the broader context of increased racial violence in the U.S. cannot be ignored. 

Among the many painful and frustrating challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is a sudden increase in acts of hate against Asian Americans and immigrants. According to Stop AAPI Hate, a project of the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council, there have been roughly 2,300 incidents reported across the country since RAMS released its condemnation of anti-Asian racism in April 2020. These past few months have seen yet another surge of physical and verbal assaults against Asian individuals, many of them women and elders. Nearly 300 reports of hate and discrimination have been made in San Francisco alone, including, in one instance, the fatal assault of an 84-year-old man in January of this year.

Combating a crisis, whether a pandemic spread through a virus, or through hate, takes the collective efforts of the community; a divided community cannot truly recover. As an agency staffed by, and serving, members of highly diverse and underrepresented populations, RAMS condemns all acts of racism and violence. None of us at RAMS are strangers to racism, or the resulting trauma in our work and our lives. RAMS is committed to protecting the well-being of our staff and our communities. 

RAMS continues to affirm its commitment to strengthening the SF Bay Area community through cultural understanding and cooperation. We call for the compassionate treatment of all people regardless of sex, age, religion, race, ethnicity, or cultural background.

If you, or someone you know is a victim of racial harassment, you may do the following:

  • Contact local law enforcement and file a report with Stop AAPI Hate, which has received over 3,800 reports since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • You may also report hate crimes by calling the San Francisco District Attorney Hate Crimes Hotline at (415) 551-9595. 
  • Many anti-Asian attacks have been perpetrated against older adults; elder abuse can be reported by calling the DAS Benefits and Resource Hub at (415) 355-6700. 
  • For those seeking counseling within the SF Behavioral Health System of Care, please reach out to RAMS Adult/Older Adult Outpatient Clinic’s Intake line at (415) 668 5955 Ext. 327.
  • For those seeking counseling and are outside the SF Behavioral Health System of Care, please reach out to the RAMS Asian Family Institute Intake line at (415) 668-5998.

To learn more about racism, its effects, and what one can do about it, please refer to the resources below.

Basic Needs for Street Crisis

Launched in November 2020, the Street Crisis Response Team (SCRT) responds to 911 calls regarding people experiencing behavioral health crises today. The SCRT is part of San Francisco’s efforts to develop alternatives to police responses to non-violent calls. Under the Division of Peer-Based Services, RAMS’ Peer Counselors are deployed as a part of a team that includes clinicians and first responders. In addition to local news articles, the team has already drawn some national attention like a segment on NBC news with upcoming interviews with CNN, CBS, and other networks. 

Over the past four months of supporting people during, for some, what may be the worst night of their lives, RAMS’ Peer Counselors have reported that many need a variety of basic needs. Some are found without blankets, shoes, or clothes. Some need sanitation supplies at a time when showers available to the unhoused have become more limited due to COVID. Although it may seem to be a small detail, having an inventory of such items would go a long way in building trust and better supporting the people Peer Counselors are called to help. 

If you’re interested in donating items to support SCRT clients, please visit our Amazon Charity List here or click the link below. All items in the list have been specifically requested by our Peer team in response to the needs they have witnessed in the field. Not only does your support give our team items that are needed most, it also encourages them that members in the community support this kind of service. We are, as always, grateful for your support. 

Historical Opportunities to Serve the Unhoused

For all its damage, COVID-19 presented a unique opportunity to support one of San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations. Although it’s nearly impossible to make an accurate census, it’s estimated that there are roughly 7,000 – 8,000 unhoused individuals living in the city. For a multitude of reasons, it is uniquely difficult to ensure unhoused people have consistent access to medical, mental health, and social services. However, last year, with shelter-in-place orders in place and hotels standing mostly vacant, San Francisco was able to establish Shelter-In-Place (SIP) hotels to house 2,500+ of the most vulnerable of the unhoused, an already highly vulnerable population. Specifically, the hotels housed those who were 65 or older or had a preexisting condition. 

For the first time, a large percentage of the unhoused were concentrated in locations where they can reliably receive support. Like Disaster Service Workers from the RAMS CAAP Counseling Program, the Division of Peer-Based Services was also asked to deploy peer counselors to SIP hotels to provide behavioral health services. Starting in May 2020 with four Peer Counselors, nine peers are currently deployed and have served 200+ unduplicated individuals with 75+ people in person and 150+ people over the phone. Peer Counselors have both behavioral health training and lived experience with mental health and/or substance use issues they can draw upon in order to work effectively with clients. 

The nature of their support is broad ranging. Some need to be connected to Medi-Cal. Some need a cell phone. Some need help getting to medical appointments. Some need services in Spanish, Cantonese, or Japanese. Some just want someone to check in every couple weeks. Some want someone to talk to a couple times a week. Our peer team, in partnership with the RAMS Adult Outpatient Clinic and other Behavioral Health Services providers, have been able to fulfill these needs and serve as an integral support for people during a time that is, to varying degrees, lonely and isolating for us all. One team member stated that these services eliminate “the usual barriers and challenges around connecting with people, and we’re able to offer coordinated care and follow-up. We’re seeing a lot of folks flourish now that they have a connection with behavioral health services and peer support.” 

Here at RAMS, we’re incredibly proud of the commitment and flexibility of our peer team as they rose to the occasion to serve a highly vulnerable population. And we’re not the only ones. Last December, the Mental Health Services Act (responsible for many innovative mental health programs), acknowledged the team’s hard work by awarding them the Team of the Year award.