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July 2017

Wellness Matters Newsletter

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Article Lisa Putkey, Pride Center Program Director and Jei Africa, Office of Diversity & Equity Manager

County’s First LGBTQ+ Pride Center Officially Opens

Nearly 500 LGBTQ+ community members and allies gathered in San Mateo County this past June 1st to celebrate the historic grand opening of the county’s very first Pride Center. A sense of community, joy and hope was palpable amongst the crowd, which spanned multiple cultures and generations.

Article Stephen Kaplan, Director, BHRS

From the Director’s Desk

A Right or A Privilege? Since the last edition of Wellness Matters we have celebrated May as Mental Health Month and June as Pride Celebration Month. We’ve also seen the historic opening of the Pride Center in San Mateo County. While these uplifting celebratory events happened there were also ominous developments in Washington D.C. As much as I would like to write about the former and what they mean to our community I am compelled to write about the latter.

Article Briana Evans
Photovoice poster

Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

While mental illness is a leading cause of disability in the U.S., nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment—and racial and ethnic groups are even less likely to get help, according to the US Office of Minority Health.

55% of San Mateo County residents identify as people of color. Especially in our majority minority community, challenges faced by minorities are challenges for us all.

Article Mary Taylor Fullerton

Integrated Medication Assisted Treatment Update
A progressive approach to treating substance use disorders

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a progressive approach to treating substance use disorders with a combination of behavioral therapy and medication. Obama-era U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, called out MAT as a critical component to addressing what he calls our public health crisis in his 2016 report “Facing Addiction in America.”

“Research clearly shows that Medication Assisted Treatment leads to better treatment outcomes compared to behavioral treatments alone,” Murthy tweeted in May. 

Article Natalie Andrade

Youth Mental Health First Aid Hosts 100th Class
1,711 people trained to help adolescents in crisis

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) has been offered by the BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity since 2013.  Since inception, we have successfully trained 1,711 individuals in San Mateo County.  The 100th class will be held at Puente, located in Pescadero.  Puente serves the San Mateo South Coast communities of Pescadero, La Honda, Loma Mar and San Gregorio.  They advocate for their communities and promote individual and community health and wellness.

Article Regina Moreno
Pride flag

San Mateo County Celebrates Pride
"Still We Rise" - 5th Annual LGBTQ+ Pride Event

The PRIDE Initiative held the 5th annual LGBTQ+ Pride event at San Mateo Central Park on Saturday, June 10th. This year’s theme “Still We Rise,” was inspired by Maya Angelou’s  1978 poem “Still I Rise.” Had it not been for the courage and tenacity of queer and trans Black women activists at Stonewall, such as Marsha P. Johnson and Stormé Delarverie, we would not be able to celebrate as we do today. “Still We Rise” is meant to inspire and remind us of the need for solidarity across all communities.


First Chance Sobering Station and Outpatient Services
Call (650) 689-5597

Many have heard of Star Vista’s First Chance Sobering Station. The 24-hour program is an alternative to jail for those arrested for driving under the influence or public intoxication. First Chance counselors provide assessments, case management and coping strategies for clients while they recover from intoxication.

Article Colin T. Hart

Older Adult System of Integrated Services
MHSA Program Highlight

It was 2009 and Celia, a resident of San Mateo County, was 71 years old when she began experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

“I was not feeling well at work, I was throwing up, and I was sent home,” she said. Celia continued experiencing these symptoms until she was referred to the Older Adult System of Integrated Services, better known as OASIS.

Article Doris Estremera
Steve Kaplan

Waverly Place Apartments Provide Supportive Housing
Groundbreaking for 15 new supportive housing units

The Mental Health Association (MHA) along with San Mateo County officials celebrated the long awaited Waverly Place Apartments groundbreaking on May 9.  The housing development at 105 Fifth Ave, in the North Fair Oaks area of Redwood City includes fifteen supported housing units for individuals with severe mental illness.

Escalating Bay Area construction costs caused a two year delay on the summer 2015 expected groundbreaking but, MHSA remained true to its culture of not giving up on projects and continued fundraising.

Article Siavash Zohoori

Storytelling Program Continues to Expand
Office of Diversity and Equity

Storytelling can be an incredibly powerful tool in bringing attention to mental health and wellness, while reducing stigma and empowering both storytellers and audiences.

During FY 16-17, The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) Storytelling developed and published a storytelling framework that defines ODE’s approach and goals, three tenets of powerful storytelling and the theory behind the storytelling program. Parts of this storytelling framework were adapted by the Lived Experience Academy.

Article  Anjalee Greenwood
photovoice poster

Photovoice at the Youth Services Center

The Office of Diversity and Equity recently partnered with the Youth Services Center (YSC) to facilitate Photovoice projects for youth detained at YSC. This project was created in order to educate others about stigma surrounding mental health for detained youth. Additionally, this project provided youth an opportunity to share their voice.

Article Sylvia Tang

Mental Health Matters to Our Community

During this past May, Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM), San Mateo County celebrated mental wellness and recovery with community partnerships, voices and action. Through my role in planning MHAM events and other stigma reduction efforts, I am excited to see that, more than ever, mental health matters to our community!

Article Toni DeMarco

Phoenix Garden Plan
Community and staff volunteers welcome

When the Youth Services Center opened in the late fall of 2006, a plan was conceptualized to develop and enhance the land where the maze of old Probation Department buildings sat. Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) and the Health System supported this original plan, and have continued to be an ever-present force as the garden project has moved forward.

Article Lawrence Selbach
flowers from garden

Therapeutic Day School Garden Flourishes
Serramonte Therapeutic Day School

The flourishing garden at Serramonte Therapeutic Day School (TDS) is an important aspect of our therapeutic program. Students enjoy visiting during breaks and lunch, hanging out, feeding the chickens, visiting with our cats or just wandering around to see, smell and touch the plants and flowers. The space provides the opportunity for students to learn about the physical aspects of gardening, but also allows them to experience firsthand the subtle but deep metaphors for psychological and emotional growth and healing that nature provides.

Article Annelise Batten

Healing Historical Trauma
Native American Health

The Native American Initiative (NAI) recently hosted a training titled Native American Health: Historical Trauma and Healing Practices. The training focused on intergenerational trauma—the lasting impact trauma can have on individuals and their descendants.

Article Doris Estremera. MHSA Manager

Elevating Marginalized Voices
Reflections from the MHSA Three-Year Plan Development

The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery Commission (MHSARC) voted to open a 30-day public comment period for the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Three-Year Plan FY 2017-2020 on June 7, which identifies priorities for future MHSA funding.  The plan is a culmination of five months and numerous staff hours of facilitation, engaging and empowering well over 500 clients and family members, diverse groups, untraditional partners and communities to participate in the planning process. 

Article Diane Tom

Tony Hoffman Award
2017 Recipients

The Tony Hoffman Award recognizes individuals, professionals, businesses, or media representatives who have made an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with mental illness and the San Mateo County community.