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 for 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., she/her
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.
Allyson Goto, A.B., she/they
Allyson Goto is a fourth generation Japanese-American from Colorado. Allyson received her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in Sustainable Development and Public Policy. Prior to working with NAAPIMHA, Allyson worked at a public health department as a special projects coordinator focused on community-based projects related to food justice and systemic change. While working in public health Allyson collaborated closely with community members, policy makers, funders, and community based organizations. Her work included organizing community coalitions, educating on and advocating for local policies, and advising in discussions for equitable federal funding distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also served as a member of the internal equity action committee for the department and lead racial equity committees around food justice efforts with the local Food Policy Council.
Allyson is passionate about ensuring mental health is accessible to everyone in the AANHPI community and believes that re-imagining what mental health means is a beautiful and important way to achieve this vision. Her own journey around mental health has included exploring the intergenerational trauma that remains from her family's incarceration during WWII and the ways in which her cultural upbringing has impacted her understanding and relationship with mental health. Outside of work she enjoys caring for her mental health through gardening, fly fishing, DIYing, traveling, and photography.
Pata Suyemoto, PhD, she/her
Director of Training and NAAPIEN, Consumer Advocate, Achieving Whole Health Trainer
Dr. Pata Suyemoto is a feminist scholar, writer, educator, curriculum developer, 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 Training/Program Director for the National Asian American Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA). Pata is a master trainer for NAAPIMHA’s Achieving Whole Health Program and the director of the National Asian American Pacific Islander Empowerment Network, which is a network of AAPIs with lived-experience related to mental health concerns. She is the co-chair for the Greater Boston Regional Suicide Prevention Coalition and the founder and co-chair of the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention (MCSP) Alliance for Equity. 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 being a suicide attempt survivor and her struggles with chronic depression and PTSD. She is a co-founder of The Breaking Silences Project, which is an artistic endeavor that educates about the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American young women. 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 board of directors for the American Association of Suicidology. Her claim to fame is that she rode her bicycle across the country in the summer of 2012.
Krystle Canare, she/her
Director of Policy and Advocacy
Krystle Canare is the Director of Policy & Advocacy for the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA), a nonprofit organization that promotes the mental health and well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Krystle is a national health equity leader with extensive leadership and management experience in the federal government, the nonprofit sector, academia, and AAPI-serving organizations. As Director of Policy & Advocacy, she leads NAAPIMHA’s work to advance sound public health policy, advance health equity, and make issues supporting AAPI mental health a national priority.
Prior to joining NAAPIMHA, Krystle managed the Center of Excellence for Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) at Georgetown University’s Center for Child & Human Development. In that capacity, she directed national trainings for IECMHC programs and mental health consultants across the United States. She provided leadership on priorities to advance health equity, including the Center’s inaugural conference, Equity from the Start, and Equity in IECMHC ECHO training programs. Before Georgetown, she served as a Senior Project Coordinator at the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, where her portfolio included more than five quality improvement projects, such as National Council’s CDC public health portfolio, which including public health initiatives related to tobacco cessation, comprehensive cancer control, integrated care, behavioral parent training for young children with ADHD, and informed CDC’s internal plan for mental health initiatives.
Krystle has served as consultant for the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, an ambassador for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders during the Obama Administration, steering committee member for the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health, health equity ambassador for the American Psychological Association, policy intern for National Alliance on Mental Illness, and now serves as the Vice Chair of the Asian Mental Health Collective.
Krystle's mental health advocacy and nonprofit leadership expands to the Filipino American community as fellowship director for the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) and coach for the National Federation of Filipino American Association's Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration (NaFFAA EPYC) program. She is the former region chair for NaFFAA's Capital Region, board director for FYLPRO, and president of the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc.
Raised in the Washington D.C metropolitan area, Krystle graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S in Neurobiology & Physiology with Honors. Krystle attributes her passion for mental health, policy making, and community building to the university’s Filipino American History & Biography course, Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy Office, and the Filipino Cultural Association.
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.
Achieving Whole Health Trainers and Project Leads
Dr. Rachele C. Espiritu, PhD
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.
Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) Interns
Amal Ali (she/her)
Amal Ali is a rising sophomore at the University of Richmond double majoring in Political Science and Leadership Studies. On campus, she is involved in student government as a Senator and served as Secretary over the past academic school year; through these positions, she addressed safety and wellness concerns. She also serves as the Managing Editor for Counterculture Magazine, a newly established publication at the university solely dedicated to social justice issues on campus, and the co-leader of Disability Student Ambassadors, a student-led organization dedicated to addressing a myriad of accessibility issues that disabled students face. Ali’s deep passion for activism on campus stems from her experiences off campus, as she has been heavily involved in combatting issues that face local, national, and international communities. She collaborated with faculty and administration in Henrico County to address racial inequities in the school system, co-created a COVID-19 and social justice information hub for folks around the country during the height of the pandemic, and worked closely with health organizations in the Rohingyan refugee camps of Bangladesh to aid persecuted Muslims. All her work stems from her deep appreciation for and prioritization of empathy; above all else, she cares about approaching all social justice issues and the people affected by them with an open heart and a listening ear. She has a genuine passion for addressing all systems of oppression and forms of human rights abuses, and her dream for the future is finding a way to combine her love for art and storytelling with her activism work.
Nishad Francis (he/him)
Nishad Francis is a first generation Indian-American from California. He is currently an intern through CAPAL, the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership. He is a rising junior at the University of California, Los Angeles, studying Political Science and English. At UCLA, Nishad is a part of a top level a cappella group, as well as one of the nations best mock trial programs, allowing him to pursue his interest in law and the legal system. In the past, Nishad worked with the school administrators at his local school district to promote student mental health, helping develop the “Speak Up, We Care” Campaign. In addition, he was one of 4 students from his school chosen to go to Sacramento to lobby and advocate for increased funding and awareness for student mental health programs for his region.
Steven Gomez Bautista (he/him)
Steven M. Gomez Bautista is a rising junior at Cornell University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies with a minor in Southeast Asia Studies with prospects to pursue international development and civic advocacy. Steven is active in the AANHPI community through his roles as co-president of Cornell Filipino Association, founder of Pancit Kanta!, and vice president of 14 Strings! — a Filipino Rondalla based in Ithaca. In his free time, Steven enjoys biking, performing and writing music, sketching, and watching video essays. Steven is ecstatic to work with NAAPIMHA to expand mental health resources to the AANHPI community this summer 2022!
Mia Hwang (she/her)
Mia Hwang is a rising Junior at Smith College, double majoring in Education and Child Studies and Psychology. Mia’s experience going to school in South Korea, Bolivia, NJ, NC and NYC taught her the importance of advocating for social justice, cultural representation, and equity in education systems. At Smith, she has advocated for these causes by being a Smith Alliance for Justice and Equity Fellow, sitting on the Student Government Association’s Curriculum Committee, and serving as a research assistant in the education and child studies department. Mia has worked as a qualitative researcher for Learning Ally, a non-profit organization that helps students from Pre-K to high school with dyslexia. She has also interned for The Leadership Academy in NYC, where she contributed to interviews and case studies with the former NYC Chancellor, Meisha Porter and former RISD Superintendent of Schools, Jeannie Stone. Recently, she completed the Mindich Fellowship where she focused on cultural responsiveness, Youth-led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) and counternarratives. As an avid boxer, Mia has trained with Hector Roca, the late Darryl Pierre at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn and Jesus Alonso in Mexico City.
Elizabeth Sweet (she/her)
Elizabeth Sweet (given Korean name Cheon Hye Ok, she/her), is a rising senior at the University of Washington majoring in neuroscience and political science. Transracially and internationally adopted from South Korea into a rural town in Washington state, she was raised outside of Asian American community and culture. She has since worked to reclaim her Asian identity and reconnect with Korean culture, advocating that there is no singular way to be Asian American. Elizabeth is a queer woman of color whose experiences before and during the rise of anti-Asian hate in the COVID-19 pandemic have shaped her vested interest in forwarding racial justice, progressive and inclusive politics, and intersectional advocacy. She is involved with the Asian Student Commission at UW, Homeroom UW (a student organization providing a platform for Asian student creativity, advocacy, and collaboration), and in her free time enjoys creating social media advocacy content featuring cosplay, cultural dress, and conversations around representation. She has been a student lobbyist, intern at a marine microbiology lab, member of a grassroots student nonprofit organization, and is passionate about race and ethnicity politics and combatting elitism in academia. She champions recognition for adoptee issues, dismantling mental health stigma, and the convergence of science with policy.
Darin Wong (he/him)
Darin Wong is a fourth-generation Chinese American from Calexico, California. Currently, Darin is entering his second year at University of California - Berkeley’s MSW program focusing on nonprofit development and macro-practice social work. Darin’s interests include working with foster youth and organizing in AAPI spaces. Alongside interning with CAPAL, Darin is a summer intern with National CAPACD and working as an accounting coordinator with Healing Grove Health Center. During his free time, Darin enjoys reading historical fiction and mystery novels, powerlifting, and practicing new equations on Microsoft Excel.
Prior to attending University of California - Berkeley, Darin graduated from University of Michigan - Ann Arbor with a B.S. in Aquatic Biology and minors in both Oceanography and A/PIA Studies. Although his initial interests were in marine biology and ecological conservation, his classes and volunteering experiences shifted his interest to working people and communities. He decided to spend a year with Americorps working with elementary students at a Title I school in San Mateo, California. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he began volunteering at food pantries and NGOs to provide services to the surrounding Bay Area community.
Darin is looking forward to learning more about advocacy around mental health during his time with NAAPIMHA. He hopes to learn how to share information about mental health to youth and to AANHPI communities in ways that are holistic and culturally relevant.
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.