Connecting Those in Need to Treatment Services

During this 30th anniversary of Recovery Month, communities across the nation are reflecting on their positive strides and plans to make recovery support services more accessible so that people can live meaningful and productive lives. Over the years, recovery-oriented organizations have also played an essential role in states, cities, towns, and neighborhoods to help countless people start and sustain their recovery.

Specifically here, in San Mateo County, there are numerous treatment options and recovery pathways for those dealing with mental and substance use disorders.

Each recovery journey is unique. If you, a family member, or a friend needs help, resources are available. You are not alone.

Click here for a list of local mental health and substance use recovery resources.

New System Expands Services and Access to Care

Since launching the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (DMC ODS) pilot in San Mateo County in February 2017, BHRS data has shown a 140% increase in the number of unique Medi-Cal beneficiaries served  annually by the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) provider network  – from 516 people in 2016 to 1,245 people in 2018.  DMC services billed to the State have also increased 206% since implementation.  This increase is due in part, to the increase in the number of certified DMC  providers, from four in 2016 to twenty-four certified DMC providers currently. 

What is the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System? 

The Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (DMC-ODS) is a pilot program which expands the services that can be provided to Medi-Cal beneficiaries under the Drug Medi-Cal benefit that were not previously covered.  Important new services include:  residential treatment, recovery support services, case management, and medication assisted treatment services.  When combined with the original DMC services (outpatient services, intensive outpatient, and opioid treatment services), a comprehensive substance use disorder benefit is now available.  Through these services, our aim is to improve access and timeliness to care,  enhance our client’s experience of care, and improve overall client health and wellness.    

Read more on how BHRS will continue serving and expanding treatment options and quality of care through this system, click here.

Suicide Prevention Week #ImHereForYou Tip #4: Self-Care and Resilience

On our last day of Suicide Prevention Week, we would like to remind us all that, as we take action to support others, it is also vital that we take the time to support and care for ourselves. 

The Importance of Building Resiliency. Practicing self-care is one part of building resilience and does not mean you are being selfish or choosing yourself over your loved one. It means that you are simply being mindful of your own needs, so you are better able to support others. You are better able to take care of the needs of others when you take care of yourself. 

Self-care can be as simple as taking a deep breath when you notice you are becoming stressed. By maintaining your physical and mental wellness, you will likely be better equipped to handle the stressors that come along with supporting someone you care about.

Self-Care Strategies to Build Resiliency and Manage Stress. 

When we are most stressed, we have a tendency to ignore taking care of ourselves, so it is important to set time to care for ourselves in big and little ways. 

  • Remain socially connected. When you are supporting someone else, it can be easy to lose sight of your other social connections. Stay in touch with your family and friends who can offer support. Recognize the importance of setting time with positive support networks. 
  • Make time for yourself. When caring for someone who may be suicidal, it can be hard to find time to take care of yourself. However, to be a productive caregiver, it is important to have some “me time.” Healthy activities that makes you feel better is worth a little bit of time out of your day.
  • Know when you need to ask for help. When caring for someone with suicidal thoughts, it is possible to become overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed does not make you a bad caregiver, family member, or friend, it makes you human. There are various resources for caregivers such as NAMI Family Support Groups. These groups offer support for people with loved ones who have experienced mental health conditions or issues. In addition, you can talk to trained counselors who provide free and confidential support by contacting one of the below 24/7 hotlines: 
    • StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 
    • Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741

To learn more about Behavioral Health and Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity and Equity September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou

Recovery Happens: Real Stories – Real People

The sharing of a personal story can be self-reflective, educational, de-stigmatizing and incredibly empowering. During Recovery Month, we share stories of hope, resilience and recovery from those who have experienced substance use and/or mental health conditions. These individuals share their stories with the hope that others will be inspired to seek help and join them on the path to recovery. 

This overall sense of low self-worth was the perfect combination to lead me toward becoming an addict. Through addiction, I lost myself for years. Using drugs helped me numb my feelings and emotions for most of my adult life... (Melissa)

This life I built over the course of four decades collapsed all at once. Like one big tower, my life came crashing down. The trigger: the demise of a relationship I was in. I found myself looking at a life without love, without the family I helped create, without a job, no place to live, and so forth. I felt I had outlived my usefulness and was too old to rebuild. So, I decided to go for the permanent fix and tried really, really hard to kill myself... (William)

Click here to read the inspiring personal stories of local residents who have experienced mental health and substance use issues.

Suicide Prevention Week #ImHereForYou Tip #3: Validate that a Person’s Feelings Matter

It is important to let another person know what they may be feeling is okay and that you believe in them. 

When reaching out to someone, remember to validate their feelings and acknowledge that they are real. Feelings may not always seem rational or easy to explain, but they are always valid. Understand that people can not control their feelings like they may be able to their thoughts or behaviors. If you are able to show someone that you acknowledge their feelings, it will allow them to feel more receptive to help and support. 

How do I show someone that I validate their feelings? 

Let the person know you hear them and are listening. You may do so by mirroring/echoing/paraphrasing rephrasing their sentiments. Repeat their own words back to them regarding how they’re feeling or what they’re going through. 

Other ways to express validation: 

  • “That makes sense.”
  • “That sounds difficult.”
  • “I’m sorry you are struggling right now.”
  • “I believe you.”
  • “I hear you.”
  • “It seems like you’re having a particularly hard moment.”
  • “It makes a lot of sense that you are stressed.”
  • “You have a lot on your plate.”
  • “Sounds like you’re having a really tough time right now.”
  • “I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling right now.”
  • “That must be really difficult to cope with.”

For an example of how to validate a person’s feelings when reaching out, watch this video from Active Minds. 


Recovery Month Officially Recognized

As you may know by now, September is Recovery Month – a nationally recognized event, now in its’ 30th year.

Recovery Month promotes the message that recovery in all forms is possible, celebrates individuals who have reclaimed their lives through recovery, and honors the prevention, treatment and recovery providers who make it possible.

Annual Recovery Proclamation 2018

Speakers from the recovery community will address the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and the annual proclamation will be issued at a Recovery Proclamation Ceremony September 17th. It will be immediately followed by a Resource fair. Join us first for the Recovery Breakfast and Philomena Walk of Hope.

Event details:

7-8:30 a.m. – Recovery Breakfast, Mezes Park, Warren & Standish St (TANK)., Redwood City
8:30 a.m. – Philomena Walk of Hope from Warren & Standish St. to 400 County Center, Redwood City
9 a.m – Proclamation at the Hall of Justice, 400 County Center, Redwood City, Ca

Don’t forget to check out the Recovery Art Show at 400 County Center while you’re there! Learn more about Recovery Month. Get a complete list of Recovery Month events here.

Suicide Prevention Week #ImHereForYou Tip #2: Listen Non-Judgmentally

Listening is an important tool to have in our personal toolboxes to prevent suicide, but listening can be hard! It can be nerve racking to have a conversation about suicide and many of us may feel like we don’t know the “right” thing to say. 

#BeThe1To recommends 5 action steps for communicating with someone who may be suicidal. ASK. KEEP THEM SAFE. BE THERE. HELP THEM CONNECT. FOLLOW UP. 

These are supported by by evidence in the field of suicide prevention. You can read more about each action step here. 

Listening non-judgmentally may not always come naturally to us. In this video, listen to Dylan, a crisis line counselor, talk about how he devleoped better listening skills while talking to hundreds of individuals who were thinking about suicide. As Dylan says “Listening isn’t really easy” but here is how he developed his own listening skill set.  

NAMI Walk 2019

Join the effort to support the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), raise awareness about the importance of good mental health and have fun in the process!

On September 21st, community members, volunteers and mental health advocates from around the Bay Area will walk together to support NAMI, their programs, and their mission to provide support, education, and advocacy to the mental health community.

SIGN UP to walk or support a team by making a donation to a team member listed on the ROSTER here.

Suicide Prevention Week #ImHereForYou Tip #1: It’s Okay To Ask About Suicide

In honor of our theme of interpersonal connectedness (or #ImHereForYou), we are offering tips on how to help someone who might be considering suicide or facing struggles in life. 

Myth: Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will increase suicides or suicidal thought. 

Fact: Acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce suicidal ideation. 

Studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. In fact, studies suggest the opposite; findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.

Asking a friend the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates to them that you are open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Asking in this direct, unbiased manner, can open the door for dialogue about their emotional pain and can allow everyone involved to see what next steps need to be taken. Other questions you can ask include, “How do you hurt?” and “How can I help?” Avoid promising to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret.

It is important to be direct and talk openly about suicide. “Are you thinking about hurting yourself” is not as direct as “Are you thinking about killing yourself”. 

Detox Center’s Certification Expands Services

The Palm Avenue Detox Center has become San Mateo County’s and California’s first standalone residential withdrawal facility. The new services provide a safe and supportive home-like environment for consumers who are acutely intoxicated or experiencing withdrawal symptoms    

As of July 1, Medi-Cal beneficiaries began receiving new residential withdrawal management services at Palm as a result of the center’s recent certification under the county’s expanded Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (ODS), Continuum of Care. 

The continuum of treatment services available under the ODS expanded significantly from the “original” Drug Medi-Cal program services to now include outpatient services, short-term residential services, withdrawal management, narcotic treatment program services, recovery services, case management, physician consultation, and additional medication assisted treatments. 

Read the full article in the BHRS Newsletter, Wellness Matters, here.

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