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
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
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 http://www.ramsinc.org.