Skip to main content Skip to site navigation


First San Mateo County Drumming Event

On March 9, over 75 Behavioral Health & Recovery Services (BHRS) staff, clients, and family members gathered in San Mateo for an event some participants later called “Awesome!” “Great!” “Love it!” “20 years in the county – best education and experience ever,” and asked for “more, more, more!”. The event, which received an almost perfect score from participants (4.95 out of 5) was Drumming and Spirituality as Healing and Recovery. A dynamic, powerful, hands-on training (pun intended), organized by the Spirituality Initiative and the Latino Collaborative, drew a full house of participants who were treated to an afternoon of stress-reducing, anxiety-decreasing, balance-inducing drumming for healing. The experienced facilitator, Dr. Sal Nunez, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, professor and researcher who investigates the physiological, neurological, and psychological healing properties of drumming practices and has been integrating drumming into local and statewide behavioral health settings. In 2009, his methodology was found to meet the standards of Community Defined Practices through Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funding. The event was characterized by the engaged, positive, respectful attitude of the audience, which was composed of 50% providers and 50% clients/consumers and family members. Besides creating a space of fun and honoring presence, the participants experienced a relaxed sense of joy and alert calmness that allowed for mindful drumming, vocalizing, and dancing as a “journey within” from which they emerged renewed and empowered.

Native and Indigenous Peoples Initiative Starts

In 2012, a group of San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services’ (BHRS) employees came together after hosting several small learning events centered around Native American healing, historical trauma, and health inequities. The group formalized itself at this time as the Native American Initiative (currently the Native and Indigenous Peoples Initiative, NIPI). The need for this initiative was based upon data at that time showing that nearly 30 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives are without health coverage and that these groups are disproportionately affected by a host of chronic medical and psychiatric conditions. NIPI’s formation and subsequent goals are to work to decrease health inequities within our Native and Indigenous communities in San Mateo County. NIPI’s mission is to bring about a comprehensive revival of the Native American community in San Mateo County through awareness, health education, and outreach which honors culturally appropriate traditional Native healing practices. The founding member and co-chair for NIPI, Gloria Gutierrez, shared that, “NIPI is integral in bringing culturally relevant healing practices to our Native and Indigenous communities in San Mateo County. We want San Mateo County to be a place where all are getting the care they need in the most culturally affirming way.”
See for more information.

Office of Diversity and Equity starts to oversee San Mateo County Stigma Reduction Efforts

The development of the Train the Facilitator Manual: Conducting an Anti-Stigma Community Education Forum, by experienced trainers, led to a training of trainers in 2012 in this critical area of mental health and recovery. This work was led by our anti-stigma initiative Stigma Free San Mateo County (now called Be The One Campaign). An important goal of the anti-stigma initiative is to reduce stigma and discrimination against individuals and families living with a mental health and/or substance misuse challenge. A major emphasis of the campaign is to reach out to specific ethnic and cultural communities to engage in conversations about stigma and how it impacts specific communities. The original content of the training manual was guided by members from the following communities: Adult Consumers/Clients, African American, Chinese, Filipino, Latino, Pacific Islander and Transition Aged Youth. This led to expansion of our yearly May Mental Health Month, additional stigma reduction trainings, and our Health Equity Initiatives that engage in this work.