Skip to main content Skip to site navigation

January 2019

Wellness Matters Newsletter

Related Content


A Year in Review
2018 Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Highlights

Below is a snapshot of some of the new and continuing developments for BHRS in the past year. We would like to recognize all of the people ­­— clients, family members, staff, partners and community members — whose passion, commitment and hard work every day, transformed these ideas into action. 

Serenity House Opens Its Doors

Serenity House, San Mateo County’s new short-term adult crisis residential center, opened on October 29 after much anticipation. Overseen by BHRS and operated by HealthRight360, Serenity House offers 24/7 treatment, support and respite to adults experiencing a psychiatric crisis but not requiring hospitalization. Learn more.

Advanced Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders

Medication assisted treatment combines medication, therapy and support to successfully treat substance use disorders. The Integrated Medication Assisted Treatment Team (IMAT) has helped treat alcohol disorders since July 2015, and recently began treating opioid use disorders in FY 17-18.


BHRS Welcomes New Director
Scott Gilman, MSA, CBHE

For the past five years Scott Gilman, MSA, CBHE served as Chief Executive Officer of Network180, the Community Mental Health Center for Kent County, Michigan. Like San Mateo County BHRS, Network 180 provides direct mental health and substance use services and maintains a large private provider network. Gilman also served as executive director of Shiawassee Community Mental Health from 2006 to 2013.

Article Lauren Mascharenhas, Communications Coordinator
girl holding rabbit

Prevention Programs Build Resilience
MHSA Prevention And Early Intervention Funds

MHSA Prevention and Early Intervention Funds

The Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) seeks to improve services and bring them to those who are most in need of mental health care.  While each county can exercise some discretion to use the funds to meet the unique needs of their community, MHSA requires that funding first be allocated to certain categories: Community Services and Supports, Innovation, and Prevention and Early Intervention. Learn more about how MHSA funds are distributed in San Mateo County.

Under MHSA, Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) funds are earmarked to help individuals prior to the onset of mental illness, and at least 51 percent must be allocated for PEI programs serving youth ages 0-25. For FY 17/18, San Mateo County has set aside $5.9 million for PEI, $3 million of which will fund youth-focused programs and services.

Article Monica Vega, AMFT Clinician and Marcos Chacon, Mental Health Clinician

Aurora Pena Recognized by Women in County Government
2018 Development Champion

Aurora Pena, BHRS Unit Supervisor at the Youth Services Center was recently honored with the Women in County Government Development Champion Award in recognition of her outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in addressing and raising awareness about the mental health needs of incarcerated youth and their families in our community. Aurora was presented the award at the Women in County Government annual holiday luncheon and awards ceremony last month.  

Article Brittany Ganguly, Community Health Planner

County To Adopt Innovative Behavioral Health Technology
App to Enhance Access to Support & Services and Aid in Early Detection

In February 2018, San Mateo County joined the County Behavioral Health Technology Collaborative which invites counties statewide to develop technology-based solutions to increase behavioral health care access, supports and early detection of symptoms.

The Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), which provides mental health funding to California counties, earmarks a portion of these funds as Innovation dollars, to be spent on developing new approaches to improve quality of services and increase access among underserved communities.

Article Briana Evans, Senior Community Health Planner

It Takes a Village: Building Strong Black Families
Celebrate Black History Month - February 16

Black History Month offers an opportunity to acknowledge the proud history of African American activism and community-building in San Mateo County. Despite the structural barriers that have hindered the growth of predominantly Black regions of the county, a thriving Black community has emerged over time. In particular, East Palo Alto, which historically has had the highest number of Black community in San Mateo County, has built its own schools, protection, and banking systems to meet its community’s needs.

Article Mark Korwald, AOD Analyst

Veterans Treatment Court Restores Lives
Connecting Vets to Needed Services

The San Mateo County Veteran’s Treatment Court (VTC) celebrated its annual Veteran’s Appreciation Day on November 9. VTC serves a community of veterans and each year, on the Friday closest to Veteran’s Day, a celebration is held to honor their service.

The Court began in May 2012 and works with current or former members of the United States military who are involved in the criminal justice system. The goal is to improve the quality of life for this population by connecting them to needed services through the Veterans Administration or other appropriate treatment entities. The program is voluntary and services include mental health treatment and therapy, substance abuse counseling, health care, housing assistance, employment and job training.

Mobile phone

Texting 911 – Now an Option for Residents in an Emergency
Call if You Can, Text 911 if You Can't

A San Mateo County-wide text-to-911 program launched in October 2018, enabling every police, fire and sheriff’s dispatcher in the county to receive emergency calls for help via text message.

Neighboring law enforcement agencies, including the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and Santa Clara police also accept and respond to 911 texts. 

While the text-to-911 program expands the community’s ability to call for help in emergency situations, officials are still urging people to text 911 only if calling is not an option.


Blog and Events

Phoenix Garden Seeks Community Volunteers

Volunteer at the  Phoenix Garden Project at the Youth Services Center in San Mateo.  Monthly community volunteer days are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., every third Saturday. Interested? Contact Toni DeMarco or Regina Moreno. Read more.

Volunteer for the Local Crisis Line

The StarVista Crisis Center is looking for volunteers who will talk with individuals in need of counseling through their crisis line. Read more.