The mission of NAAPIMHA is to promote the mental health and well being of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
What We Believe and What We Do
NAAPIMHA firmly believes in the following social justice issues:
Suicide prevention among youth
Empowering mental health consumers
Access to high quality affordable mental health services for all
NAAPIMHA believes that these public policies and social justice issues have direct correlation with mental health. Without equality and justice in our healthcare, immigration, education, and social systems there will be no peace in people’s heart and mind.
We accomplish our goals by...
Working closely with consumers such as developing a statewide consumer network in California
Working closely with community-based organizations that address mental health and health related issues
Advocating public policy that will improve quality service including the “Ten Guiding Principles of Recovery”
Providing technical assistance and training to service providers such as cultural competency training, interpreter training, and clinical training
Developing mental health fact sheets in languages such as Hmong, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Mandarin, Thai, and Vietnamese
Who We Are
DJ Ida, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Achieving Whole Health Trainer
Dr. DJ Ida has over forty years of experience working with Asian American/Pacific Islander communities. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology and helped establish numerous organizations, including the Asian American Educational Opportunity Program at the U of Colorado, the Asian Pacific Development Center, a specialty mental health clinic in Denver and the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association. She has served on numerous advisory boards including the US Dept HHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Advisory Board, Mental Health America, the Annapolis Coalition for Behavioral Health Workforce, the Hogg Foundation and the UC Davis Medical School Center for Eliminating Health Disparities. She received the Robert Wood Johnson Award for Health Equity for her efforts to focus on the impact of mental health on the health and wellbeing of ethnically diverse and linguistically isolated populations. She was the primary author for the Office of Minority Health’s Integrated Care for AANHPIs: A Blueprint for Action (2012). In 2001 she served as a peer reviewer for the Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity and was a contributing author for the Eliminating Disparities for Racial and Ethnic Communities Subcommittee report for the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health as well as the Annapolis Coalition on Behavioral Health Workforce’s paper An Action Plan for Behavioral Health Workforce Development. In an effort to improve the quality of care for AANHPIs she helped develop Growing Our Own to train clinicians on how to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services; Achieving Whole Health to train community members to become Wellness Coaches; and the Mental Health Interpreters Training to work in mental health settings recognizing the unique challenges faced when interpreting with immigrant and refugee populations.
Achieving Whole Health Trainers and Project Leads
Program Director, Achieving Whole Health Trainer
JR is a national speaker, trainer, and coach with over 10 years of experience in professional speaking. JR is the Program Director of NAAPIMHA’s Friends DO Make a Difference. He has been with NAAPIMHA since 2010 in providing mental health awareness and training to the Asian American, Native Hawaii, and Pacific Islander college students. JR is also the founder of CoffeeWithJR (coffeewithjr.com), a company that specializes in providing culturally competent Mental Health First Aid and diversity/inclusion trainings. Between NAAPIMHA and CoffeeWithJR, he has trained college students and professionals on mental health at over 45 universities and dozens of organizations across the country. JR also teaches at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Denver on leadership, cultural competency, and mental health. As a diversity/inclusion trainer, JR has facilitated numerous DEI workshops for Fortune 500 companies, as well as locally for companies in Denver, Colorado. In addition to being a professional speaker, JR has 10 years of experience managing and running nonprofit organizations and small businesses. As an immigrant who has struggled with the immigration system, JR is passionate about advocating for immigration reform and supporting immigrants in the United States. JR’s mental health journey as an immigrant is featured in a short documentary called “Coffee Talking Out of Mental Coffins,” and in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Asian American Policy Review.
Dr. Rachele C. Espiritu
Achieving Whole Health Trainer and Project Lead
Dr. Rachele C Espiritu is a Founding Partner of Change Matrix a women-owned, minority-owned small business. Dr. Espiritu is the evaluator on NAAPIMHA projects and was one of the authors and trainers for the AchievingWhole Health Training. She played a key role in developing a virtual model of AWH so it can expand NAAPIMHA's outreach to community based organizations. Dr Espiritu is a first-generation Filipina research psychologist who centers equity in the training, technical assistance, and capacity building that she provides in the areas of behavioral health, evaluation, workforce development, systems change, and policy development. Rachele has worked with a variety of federal, state, and community representatives to build capacity for behavioral health care services and collaborating systems.
Dr. Espiritu is passionate about service leadership and community engagement. She serves on numerous community and state boards and is a former School Board Member of Denver Public Schools (DPS). She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she was a Patricia Robert Harris scholar. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenage sons.
Pata Suyemoto PhD
Consumer Advocate, Achieving Whole Health Trainer and Project Lead
Dr. Pata Suyemoto is a feminist scholar, writer, educator, diversity trainer, mental health activist, jewelry designer, and avid bicyclist. She earned her PhD. from the University of Pennsylvania and did her research on anti-racist education and issues of race and racism. She is the co-chair for the Greater Boston Regional Suicide Prevention Coalition and the chair of the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention (MCSP) Alliance for Equity’s People of Color Caucus. Pata is one of the authors of Widening the Lens: Exploring the Role of Social Justice in Suicide Prevention – A Racial Equity Toolkit. She has spoken and written about her struggles with depression and is a co-founder of The Breaking Silences Project www.thebreakingsilencesproject.com, which is an artistic endeavor that educates about the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American young women. She is also a long-time volunteer for Asian Women for Health and is a trainer and wellness coach for the Achieving Whole Health program. Pata is also member of a number of boards and committees including the MCSP’s Executive Committee, the planning committee for the annual Asian American Mental Health Forum, and the Department of Public Health’s Suicide Prevention Community Advisory Board. She is active in AAS’s Impacted Family and Friends (IFF) Division, the Attempt Survivors/Lived Experience (AS/LE) Division, and the Cultural Competency Committee. Her claim to fame is that she rode her bicycle across the country in the summer of 2012.
Board of Directors
Dr. Ed Wang
Dr. Ed K.S. Wang is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Director of Policy and Planning for the Chester M. Pierce, MD Division of Global Psychiatry. As the former Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Dr. Wang has developed expertise in caring for and developing programs for racially and ethnically diverse chronically mentally ill adults, children and adolescents with serious emotional or behavioral disturbances.
Dr. Wang’s teaching and consulting work focuses on U.S. and international mental health policy, program development, and clinical excellence. He works with organizations and governments to integrate evidence-based practice, community-based participatory research, informatics, network development, and community partnerships to transform public policy as well as organizational programs and practices.
Dr. Wang has consulted with groups providing community based mental health services in the U.S, Canada, Liberia, Kenya, China, and Hong Kong. He was the first Asian American psychologist appointed to the National Advisory Council, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Service and participated in the White House National Conference on Mental Health. He spoke at the 21st IFP World Congress of Psychotherapy on the “Essential Role of Psychotherapy for Person-Centered Health Care: A Global Perspective”.
Born in Hong Kong, Dr. Wang is currently the President of the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association. He participated in the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Debriefing by the White House Commission’s on Asian American Pacific Islanders. He has been a member of a national group addressing health and behavioral health needs through integrated care for Asian Americans organized by the Office of the Minority Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services.Dr. Wang is a national consultant for the National Center for Cultural Competence for children’s and families mental health. He has been on the faculty of the Training Institutes of System of Care since 2002 of the National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health at the Georgetown University Child Development Center in Washington, D.C. His clinical, teaching, and public service continues to transform policy, program and practice in the United States and internationally. His career aspiration is to continue the expansion of a network of global experts to improve mental health conditions and overall wellness of underserved communities.
PDr. Francis Lu
Board Vice President
Francis Lu is the Luke and Grace Kim Endowed Professor in Cultural Psychiatry, Director of Cultural Psychiatry, and Associate chair for Medical Student Education at the UC Davis Health System. Dr. Lu’s career has focused on cultural competence and diversity, mental health disparities, psychiatric education with an emphasis on recruitment and mentorship, and the interface of psychiatry and religion/spirituality especially through film.
He currently works with both the Asian American Center on Disparities Research and the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at UC Davis and has served on the California State Department of Mental Health Cultural Competence Advisory Committee since 1996. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) awarded him the 2001 Kun-Po Soo Award for his work in integrating Asian issues into psychiatry; in 2002, he received a Special APA Presidential Commendation for his work in cross-cultural psychiatry. In 2008, the American Psychiatric Foundation awarded him one of its Advancing Minority Mental Health Awards and the Association for Academic Psychiatry honored him with its Lifetime Achievement in Education Award. He currently serves as an issues representative on the National Steering Committee of the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Diversity and Inclusion and as chair of the University of California Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity of the Academic Senate. He received an M.D. from Dartmouth Medical School.
Dr. Terry Gock
Terry Gock, PhD, MPA, is director of Pacific Clinics' Asian Pacific Family Center, which serves the Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations in the San Gabriel Valley through programs in mental health, substance abuse prevention, child abuse prevention, gang and violence prevention. The Asian Pacific Family Center is the only culturally and linguistically competent public mental health service agency for Asian immigrants in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles. Gock oversees programs that keep teenagers away from drugs and gangs and offers parenting workshops that help immigrant families adjust to American culture. He is also an organizational consultant and a program proposal reviewer in private practice for various nonprofit and government organizations, as well as a clinical and forensic psychologist.
Gock, born and raised in Hong Kong, credits his high school’s emphasis on community service for inspiring him to become a psychologist. He came to the United States in 1970 for college at California State University in Chico, and earned his clinical psychology doctorate at Washington University in St. Louis. He has served in a number of roles for the American Psychological Association, including membership on the Council of Representatives, chair of the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in Public Interest and president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues. In February 2011, APA President Melba J.T. Vasquez, PhD, honored his work to promote multicultural psychology with an APA Presidential Citation.
Theanvy Kuoch is Executive Director of Khmer Health Advoctes, Inc. Kuoch is a great example of resilience and surviving in the face of profound trauma. She turned her own experience as a Cambodian refugee into something positive - she now helps other victims of persecution to overcome the scars of the past and has won international recognition for her achievements.
After suffering for four years under the Khmer Rouge regime, she managed to escape from Cambodia in 1979. She recalls the horror of the 1970s: "From 1975 to 1979, I was a slave of the Khmer Rouge and forced to do heavy labour. I watched as my family died one by one from starvation and abuse until I had lost more than 19 relatives." Following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, Kuoch, fearing Khmer Rouge reprisals, ran away with her six-year-old son and her niece. They hid in the forest, staying until it was safe to go back to her home, where she was reunited with her father and three sisters.
In the refugee camp, Kuoch was able to regain her self-respect, lost during the long years of harsh treatment. She began working for a surgical hospital operated by the German Catholic Relief Organization and was trained as a theatre nurse. After spending two years working in various refugee camps, she was resettled in the United States. In America, she obtained a master's degree in Cross Cultural and Contextual Family Therapy at Goddard College, Vermont.
Since 1982, Kuoch, together with other devoted nurses from the Khao-i-Dang camp, has provided health services to survivors of torture and persecution through Khmer Health Advocates. As she has said: "I learned that my own pain was eased by helping others." This organisation, based in West Hartford, Connecticut, co-operates closely with other international refugee agencies and assists families to locate and resettle relatives. Finding her own son after 11 years of separation was the greatest reward for her lifelong work.
In the late 1980s, Kuoch started a project called Cambodian Mothers for Peace, a women's group that advocated an end to fighting in Cambodia through discussions and presentations about their Cambodian experience. This year, she organised the National Cambodian American Health Taskforce to address a health crisis in Cambodian communities across the United States.
Kuoch has been awarded on several occasions for her enduring refugee work: in 1984, she was one of the humanitarians honoured as "Outstanding Women" in commemoration of the United Nations Decade of Women. In 1991, President George Bush declared her a "point of light" on National Refugee Day. In 1992, she received an award by the Women's Refugee Commission for Refugee Women and Children for her advocacy work.
Ms. Bermudez served as the Program Manager at the Dallas Metrocare Services in Garland, Texas. A nationally recognized consumer advocate, she was a founding member of the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA), National Alliance of Multi-Ethnic Behavioral Health Associations (NAMBHA), and National People of Color Client, Consumer, Survivors, Ex-Patients Network. She has served as a consumer advocate and representative for each of these organizations and played an important role in raising the voices of consumers. She served as a peer reviewer for the Surgeon General’s Mental Health Supplement Report: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity and was instrumental in the development of NAAPIMHA’s Growing Our Own curricula that trains clinicians on how to provide culturally and linguistically competent care for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders. She lead focus groups in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Hawaii to help gain the consumer perspective on what works/what doesn’t in helping consumers on their road to recovery.