In Praise of Asian American and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day – May 10th

RAMS officially fired-up our 50th anniversary celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day on May 10th at Treasure Island. According to one participant, the colors, the vibes, the spirit, and ambiance of the event were “beautiful, it was wonderful, it was well-executed. You cannot buy spirit but it was deeply felt there.” The event recognized five milestone programs: Outpatient, Fu Yau Project, Asian and Pacific Islander Mental Health Collaborative, CalWorks, and Pacific Islander Wellness Initiative, along with their founding directors, staff, and community partners.

The community celebration focused on the achievement of whole health through interactive activities influenced and informed by Asian American + Pacific Islander (AA+PI) cultures. Guests had the opportunity to engage in weaving a ti leaf lei adorned with orchid flowers, creating an origami sculpture, mixing one’s own blend of tea using tea, herbs, and essence, dedicating a lime green ribbon to someone, a place, a community struggling with mental health concerns and/or living with mental illness, and playing cornhole, Jenga, or engaging in conversation with others. We started the event by acclimating to the space through mindful meditation. Sprinkled throughout the day, there were 30-minute segments of physical activities like Siva4Wellness (Samoan dance movement), Hula4Wellness, Thai, Lao, and Cambodian social dance (Romvong, Rom Kback,and Rom Saravan), and Drumming Circle.

Over 170 guests attended the event, from RAMS staff, government officials, funders, partners, community members, and former RAMS employees. Mayor London Breed’s representative, Santos Alferez, presented RAMS with a commendation to honor this day and Representative Judy Chu shared a video tribute.

In 2010, RAMS spearheaded the first state, county, and city proclamation efforts to establish May 10 as the Asian Pacific American Mental Health Day in the State of California and the City and County of San Francisco. The goal of AA+PI Mental Health Day was to raise awareness about mental health within the AA+PI community, advocating for policies to improve services and service provision, leveraging resources, and developing culturally and linguistically congruent services that appeal to the heart and soul of people we serve. In 2021, Representative Judy Chu introduced the first congressional resolution to recognize May 10th as AA+PI Mental Health Day, ensuring that all levels of government must better serve this community.

RAMS provides comprehensive mental health services that aim to meet the behavioral health, social, vocational, and educational needs of the diverse community of the San Francisco Area with expertise in serving the Asian & Pacific Islander American and Russian-speaking populations. Our event was made possible with funding by the 2024 SDDT Healthy Communities Support Grants.

To view more event photos, visit RAMS Facebook page.

Contributed by Natalie Ah Soon, MPH, Director of Community Engagement and Government Relations

RAMS Continues the Legacy of Dr. Evelyn Lee Through Diversity and Cultural Competency Training

Dr. Evelyn Lee served as RAMS’ Executive Director from 1990 to 2003. Throughout her leadership, she has amplified RAMS’ impact in the community through program expansion and continuous advocacy to provide multilingual and culturally competent services.

This year, RAMS continues her legacy through the Dr. Evelyn Lee Diversity and Cultural Competency Training 2024: Envisioning Mental Wellness: Conversations to Move from a Colonized Center.

The RAMS Training Institute was proud to host a forum for participants and panelists to engage in discussion around the impacts of settler colonialism on the field of mental health.  Panelists (Jeannie Celestial, MSW, PhD; Jocelyn Hermoso, MSW, PhD; Kendra Twenter, AMFT, APCC; and Patricia Rojas Zambrano, MFT, EdD) provided frameworks for understanding the importance of a decolonial perspective in the helping fields and offered an experiential learning opportunity to support wellness. 

Participants were highly engaged in both self-reflection and critique.  As one participant noted, “I was moved by the content and conversation and felt deeply connected and motivated after hearing the panelist and conversation.”

Those who were unable to attend, or were in attendance and wish to expand their learning may be interested in these upcoming virtual events on the topic of decolonization in mental health.

Stay tuned for the next RAMS Training Institute public event in Fall 2024.

Contributed by: Dennielle Kronenberg

Wellness Centers Program

High school can be a difficult space to navigate, as students deal with new social circles and greater peer and academic pressures. When a student is also struggling with mental health issues and faced with risk factors such as community-based violence or poverty, navigating high school can seem nearly impossible. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found that 60 percent of high school students struggling with serious mental health issues do not graduate, while according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, more than 30 percent of high school students feel debilitated by sadness and hopelessness.

In partnership with San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), Department of Public Health and the Department of Children Youth and their Families, RAMS Wellness Centers Program creates a safe space for struggling high school students at on-campus Wellness Centers, which are located at each of SFUSD’s 15 high schools. The Wellness Initiative Counselors provide on-site therapy and work collaboratively with teachers and parents/caregivers. The Wellness Centers provide resources to a vast community of youth from a wide range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, many of who may not otherwise access services. Check out the SF Wellness Initiative for more information about the collaborative effort that established this program.

RAMS SF TRACK (Treatment Recovery Accountability Collaboration Knowledge), a component of the Wellness Initiative, supports youth under the age of 21 who are at either serious risk or are already involved in the juvenile justice system. SF Track is a portable intensive outpatient treatment program with services provided at the home, school or in the community.

RAMS Wellness Initiative serves high school students at 15 SFUSD sites.

The Wellness Centers Program also offers a school-based clinical training program for graduate students studying psychology, counseling, marriage & family therapy, and social work. For more information and to find out about the application procedure, you can download the internship program information by clicking here.

Dennielle Kroneneberg, LCSW, PPS
Director, Behavioral Health Services/Wellness Centers Program
(415) 668-5955 Ext. 314