Matthew Walker

RAMS serves community

By Matthew Walker

A looming challenge in health care for the city of San Francisco

would be undoubtedly the passage of the proposed “American

Health Care Act (AHCA),” which has been proffered to replace

the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) of the former federal administration.

How will these sweeping changes affect the delivery of mental health care services in

San Francisco? The need for continuing and expanded health care in our

community is obvious as are the needs for community-based solutions

through creative innovations and best resource management.

We, the outpatient clinic of Richmond Area Multi-Services

(RAMS), believe that we provide comprehensive mental

health services that address the needs of diverse populations in

the Richmond District.

Richmond Area Multi-Services is a perfect example of

how mental health care services can be delivered more efficiently

and as effectively as traditional, but far more costly, models.

Founded in 1974, RAMS, Inc. is a private, non-profit mental

health agency advocating for and providing community-based,

culturally-competent and consumer-guided comprehensive

services, with an emphasis on serving Asian and Pacific

Islander Americans and Russian speaking populations. The agency’s

primary aim is to promote mental wellness, increase awareness

of mental health and reduce the stigma of mental health in

diverse cultures.

The agency serves and outreaches to about 18,000 adults,

children, youth and families, and provides services in more than

30 languages annually, with a staff numbering approximately

350 employees, 25 interns and many volunteers.

RAMS collaborates with more than 30 local organizations

in achieving its mission, including the Asian & Pacific Islander

American Health Forum; Mental Health Association of San

Francisco; National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); National

Suicide Prevention; Richmond District Neighborhood Center;

SF Department of Public Health (SFDPH); and, Westside

Community Services.

This collaboration of services affords RAMS many options to

serve San Franciscans in a variety of contexts, from medication

management or therapy to education and training for employment.

In addition to serving those in the Richmond, RAMS provides services throughout San

Francisco by offering more than 30 programs (integrated into 11 core programs).

In fact, RAMS, with San Francisco State University assistance, offers a

12-week Peer Specialist Mental Health Certificate program to educate

its students about the basic means of delivering mental

health services to others as peer counselors.

This program prepares consumers, family members

or former consumers of behavioral health services with the

skills and knowledge for entry- and advanced-level peer counseling

roles and employment in the behavioral health field.

The RAMS Division of Peer-Based Services offers peer counseling,

outreach, training and education services at approximately 30

sites throughout San Francisco.

The agency also conducts a Peer Wellness Center apart from its peer counseling services.

In future strategic mental health care planning, San Francisco needs to

come together at all levels of delivery and need, including government,

providers and consumers, to attempt to create greater access to mental health

services for its citizens with the limited resources available – with a proven economic,

personal and societal gain to be realized by its citizens becoming productive, stable and

contributing members of our community.

Matthew Walker is a peer counselor at Richmond Area

Multi-Services (RAMS), and is an MSW candidate at USC. The

views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author

and do not necessarily reflect the policy of RAMS. For

more information, go to the website at

1 reply »

  1. What a great article. Had no idea this is something available so that people in the community can take advantage of.


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