Community Engagement and Wellness

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