From David’s Desk
This May, we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM). Launched by a proclamation from our county Board of Supervisors on April 24, MHAM in San Mateo County will focus on bridging communities to wellness. All community members should have access to resources that support their well-being, regardless of who they are or where they live in the county.
At BHRS, a division of the San Mateo County Health System, we have been blessed with an exceptional, dedicated staff; extraordinary support from our county leaders; and partnership with our sister county agencies, our community based provider organizations, our labor partners, and our consumers and families.
Our county is rated one of the healthiest in the nation. However, we are not immune to challenges:
- The number of adults who rated their access to mental health services as “fair” or “poor” increased to 36 percent in 2016 from 28 percent in 1998. 1
- SMC youth ages 15 to 19 have a higher rate of hospitalization for mental health issues (13.1 per 1,000) than the California average (9.8 per 1,000).2
- SMC 11th-graders have a higher rate of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use (36.9%) than the California average (33.4%).3
- Racial and ethnic disparities in health and mental health access persist.
A major barrier to seeking help is the lack of awareness that mental health and substance use conditions are treatable and interventions work. There is also significant personal and cultural stigma toward people suffering with these problems.