Take the Cessation Services Survey and Enter To Win a $20 Gift Card!

San Mateo County Health’s Tobacco Prevention Program is conducting a survey to gather feedback on a Cessation Services educational material. Participants can enter a raffle to win a $20 gift card to REI.

This survey is open to San Mateo County residents that use tobacco. This anonymous survey is available in English and Spanish. Take the survey.

BHRS’ ODE Internship Program – Deadline 5/13

The BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) advances health equity in behavioral health outcomes of marginalized communities throughout San Mateo County. ODE is dedicated to addressing health inequities and stigma in the areas of mental health and substance use and supporting wellness and recovery in San Mateo County. ODE works to achieve these goals by promoting cultural humility and competence, which are rooted in principles of
social justice. To learn more about BHRS ODE’s work, visit www.smchealth.org/bhrs/ODE.

More information about the internship in the application below.

Happy AAPI Heritage Month: Updates from the Pacific Islander Initiative

PII Co-Chair, Brittany Afu

This year, BHRS ODE’s Health Equity Initiative, Pacific Islander Initiative (PII) welcomes a returning co-chair, Brittany Afu, who is currently working with long-time partner, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. Luci Latu and Brittany have been focusing on rebuilding past partnerships and cultivating new ones to strengthen PII’s membership base.

Some of the initiative’s focus this year has been on COVID outreach – raising awareness around COVID testing, vaccines and linking families to COVID relief programs and services. Other focuses include outreaching for partner events and community classes, sharing information about services and completing community presentations to raise awareness on critical issues affecting the PII community.

Recently, the PII co-chairs presented to a class at UC Berkeley discussing Pacific Islander health disparities and how the initiative and other partnering agencies are developing strategies to address community needs. It is an ongoing effort, and we hope to make community impacts by filling future Parent Project courses, hosting Mental Health First Aid trainings and getting more families connected to needed care.

Blog written by Brittany Afu
Co-Chair of Pacific Islander Initiative of San Mateo County, 


To learn more about Pacific Islander Initiative and other health equity initiatives, visit SMCHealth.org/HEI.

The Health Equity Initiatives are funded through BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity. For more information click here.

To learn more about Pacific Islander Initiative, visit smchealth.org/pacific-islander-initiative.

Get Internet

As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, President Biden and Vice President Harris created the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides eligible households $30 per month off their internet bills.

To deliver maximum cost savings to families, the Biden-Harris Administration has secured commitments from 20 leading internet providers to offer ACP-eligible households a high-speed internet plan for no more than $30 per month. Eligible families who pair their ACP benefit with one of these plans can receive high-speed internet at no cost. Find out if you qualify.

2022 May Mental Health Month #SMCTakeAction4MH

Hello, 

As many of you know, May is Mental Health Month or, as we also like to call it, the lime greenest time of the year! This year’s theme, adopted from the statewide campaign, is #SMCTakeAction4MH. The theme encourages everyone to take actionable steps to address mental health and substance use matters. Over the past two years, the pandemic has been especially challenging for many of us. Your mental health is more important than ever. Throughout the month, learn ways you can take action to improve your communities’ mental wellness!

Each year we partner with local agencies and community members to offer free events throughout San Mateo County. This year, we are offering both in-person and virtual events!

To find our full calendar of events, learn ways to get involved, and find behavioral health resources. Visit our website here: SMCMentalHealthMonth.org.

Please promote Mental Health Month with your communities and networks by sharing our promo flyer and utilizing our virtual backgrounds.

In community, 

Kristie & Sylvia
Co-Chairs, May Mental Health Month Planning Committee
Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity

Sylvia Tang | She/Her/她
stang@smcgov.org | 650-578-7165

Kristie Lui | She/Her/她
kflui@smcgov.org

Kwentuhan: Y(Our) Story Matters: You heal. I heal. We heal. 

Panel from Equity Through Art Series: Kwentuhan on 3/31/22

Kwentuhan in Tagalog,  translates to “storytelling.” By exploring our personal and collective narratives we can find ways to deepen our connection to Self, & others, including our ancestors (seen and unseen). Research has shown that the practice of storytelling, whether you are sharing or witnessing, can offer a pathway to healing. The Equity Through Art Series webinar: “Filipinx Kwentuhan” on March 31st embodied that relational experience for me, as I spoke my truth as a panelist, as well as witnessing the soulfully moving & resilient stories shared by my fellow kapatids (siblings) on the panel. As a 2nd generation Pinay-American, this cultural tradition of kwentuhan has served as a wisdom transfer, and ancestral healing tool in my family and community.  

This healing arts practice is at the heart of the newly founded Kapwa Kultural Center/Kafé in Daly City (a state-funded project by the Mental Health Services Act Innovation Funding) that, in collaboration with Daly City Partnership & Daly City Youth Health Center, the Filipino Mental Health Initiative of San Mateo County has developed to honor our Filipina/o/x lineage and culture through preserving our individual and collective narratives. Expected to officially launch late 2022 to mid-2023, the center/café will offer a welcoming, culturally affirming, healing space to access an array of mental health & wellness services and support—as well as a home for kwentuhan: a place to talk story, grab a Filipino-inspired drink, and merienda (afternoon snacks). Please stay tuned for more updates on our progress. If you are interested in getting involved and/or learning more about this historical North San Mateo County landmark development, please feel free to contact us at fmhismc@gmail.com or visit us at fmhi-smc.org. 

Blog written by Stephanie Balon, MA, AMFT 
Co-Chair of Filipino Mental Health Initiative of San Mateo County, 
Co-Founder/Senior Director of Kapwa Kultural Center/Kafe in Daly City 


Missed the event? You can find the full recording here.

To learn more about Filipino Mental Health Initiative and other health equity initiatives, visit SMCHealth.org/HEI.

The Health Equity Initiatives are funded through BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity. For more information click here.

BHRS Director’s Update – April 2022

See the latest issue of the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Director’s Update from Scott Gilman.  Topics include:

  • Youth Stabilization, Opportunity, and Support (S.O.S.) Team Launches
  • California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM)
  • Older Adults Transition from ACE County to Medi-Cal
  • Congratulations – Shirley Chu, Crisis, Outreach, and Engagement Services Manager; Sitike Counseling Center
  • BHRS Contractors’ Association of San Mateo County.

See past issues and visit the BHRS website.

Seeking Tony Hoffman Award Nominations

The San Mateo County Mental Health & Substance Abuse Recovery Commission is seeking nominees for its annual Tony Hoffman Community Mental Health Service Awards. This honor is made to individuals, professionals, businesses, and the media who have made an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with mental illness and the San Mateo County community.

Recognition is given for public education or advocacy to promote mental health awareness and needs or to address stigma; services to persons with mental illness; creation of new and innovative programs or community support activities; recognition of fundraising for mental health activities or long-term financial support to mental health programs; working for new mental health legislation; compassionate treatment of persons with mental illness. 

See the nomination form for more information. Deadline for submission is April 19, 2022.

AACI Black History Month Event | Thank you and Highlights

The African American Community Initiative (AACI) proudly hosted their annual Black History Month Program on Saturday, February 26, 2022. The audience was greeted with a musical interlude by The Glide Ensemble singing “Say Their Names” chanting “Black lives matter- we matter.” This poignant song was followed by Dana Johnson (they/them), Pride Initiative Co-Chair, honoring our ancestors by reciting the Sankofa African Ancestral acknowledgement. Lee Harrison (he/him), AACI Co-Chair, gave an introduction to the national theme for Black History Month: Black Health and Wellness.

Doctoral student from Palo Alto University and AACI intern, Chika Ofodu (she/they) gave a well received presentation on Healing Centered Engagement (HEC), a framework for engaging with youth of color that embraces a holistic and strength- based approach to trauma that involves culture, spirituality, civic action, and collective healing.

Dr. Kim Rhoads (she/her) told us that the highest rate of COVID infection and deaths are still occurring in Black and Latino communities. Social determinants drive these disparities that are common among all other diseases. Although the total numbers of people with COVID has declined, Dr Rhoads emphasised that Black and Brown communites need to continue to follow precautionary guidelines to reduce our high infection rates:

  • Masking matters: It is most important to block the aerosol spread from the mouth and nose.
  • Protect yourself by getting vaccinated despite community conspiracy theories to the contrary.
  • Omicron is a variant of COVID, there will likely be new variants.

We must act accordingly to protect ourselves from this airborne disease.

Lastly, a cultural cooking demonstration of a Healthy Gumbo recipe was offered by Chef Opal of Daly City. Through-out the event there were presentation polls and raffles. A Black History Trivia Game and raffle ended the day on a high note. All event raffles were funded by the SMC BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity.

Written by Pamela Ward (she/her), African American Community Initiative Co-Chair

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