2019 Tony Hoffman Awards

The Tony Hoffman Award, presented by the San Mateo County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery Commission 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. 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. 

We salute this year’s recipients:

  • Detective Mike Tabak (law enforcement) is with the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department and he leads the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT). He was recognized for the ways in which he tirelessly connects patients and families with services and resources to prevent hospitalization and incarceration.
Det. Mike Tabak, 2019
Tony Awards Recipient

“When a call involves a suspected mental health crisis, a deputy officer is often the first person to arrive on the scene. Detective Tabak works with all law enforcement in the county to administer 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training every three months – three times the state average. He continuously strives for greater collaboration around mental health issues.” -David Pollack, Nominating Officer

Jeffrey John Earl Edgerton (r), 2019 Tony Award Recipient
  • Jeffrey John Earl Edgerton (client/servce provider/volunteer) is an AOD counselor at Voices of Recovery and a wrap facilitator who empowers individuals with peer support. 

Edgerton says his work is in the community of mental health and substance use disorder. In accepting his nomination he lamented on how comorbidity has plagued himself and his peers for years, yet he has been able to reach full recovery despite life challenges through a Wellness Recovery Action Plan and the 12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous

  • Jonay Grant (service provider/not pictured) works as a BHRS Transitional Age Youth counselor, peer counseling course instructor and she is an anti-stigma mental health role model.

“She is dedicated to helping people in the community. She also is creative and inspiring to her students. She motivates and encourages peers to be the person they can be”. -Yoko Ng, Nominating Officer

**Awards were presented to honorees at the San Mateo County Mental Health & Substance Abuse Commission meeting on May 1, 2019.

Share Your Story during Recovery Month

Across the country, people in recovery are celebrating their successes and sharing them with others in an effort to educate the public about treatment, reduce stigma and inspire others that recovery is possible.

Every September, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) recognizes Recovery Month by sharing personal stories of hope, resilience and recovery from individuals in San Mateo County who are living with and/or recovering from a substance use and/or mental health condition.  We seek brief narratives from individuals reflecting diverse perspectives who are interested in sharing their story publicly.  Stories from family members’ perspectives are also welcome. 

Narratives may be shared in Wellness Matters (BHRS’ online newsletter), on the BHRS blog, or other San Mateo County Health communications and social media channels, such as facebook.  See an example of past stories published.

Stories are due August 2, 2019. Please refer to the guidelines to learn more about submitting your story.

East Palo Alto Wellness Center Introduces New Programs and Partnerships

Services at the Barbara A. Mouton Multicultural Wellness Center have significantly expanded with more workshops, events, support groups and mental health resource services being added over the past year.

The facility’s multicultural environment is designed to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of individuals served in a community that reflects and celebrates the diversity of East Palo Alto.

The Mouton Center was established in 2009 by One East Palo Alto.  It is funded by BHRS with Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding. 

Click here to read more.

Innovative Pride Center to Remain Open

The one stop shop support and services center is the first of its kind in San Mateo County and thanks to an Innovation funding extension, it will continue serving the local LGBTQ+ community.

Services offered by the Center include:

  • Psycho-educational and social/community activities
  • Mental health clinical services
  • Resources for local, county and national LGBTQ+ services.

California’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) approved the extension to keep the center operating in March.

The Pride center has provided services, training and events for over 3,000 participants since opening in 2017. Read the full article here.

To see more stories, read past and current issues, or subscribe to our Wellness Matters newsletter, click here.

Mental Health Care Clients Can Live Longer With Holistic Approach

BHRS is seeing improved physical and psychological health outcomes in the Total Wellness program. The holistic health care approach, established in collaboration with the San Mateo Medical Center, combines mental and physical health services in one location to better serve mentally ill adult clients who also have physical health conditions.  

Consistent and solid improvement is occurring among consumers managing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The program was created a few years ago because, on average, people with behavioral health issues tend to die 25 years earlier than their peers because of poor access.

To learn more about the Total Wellness program, read the full article in the BHRS “Wellness Matters” newsletter.

You can also subscribe to Wellness Matters here.

Free training offered to help prevent suicide in the restaurant industry

In honor of Anthony Bourdain’s life and for his birthday today, the Giving Kitchen is supporting suicide prevention efforts in the restaurant industry by offering free QPR training to anyone in the restaurant industry.   Tell your favorite waitresses, waiters, baristas, chefs, or restaurant owners to go to www.givingkitchen.com to sign up for the free training.   Read the story on CNN.

Immigrant Mother Uses BHRS Program to Change Her Life and Help Community

Maria Cuellar, BHRS Health Ambassador

When Maria Cuellar became a BHRS Health Ambassador in 2016, she made a commitment to reconcile her past – and she did.  She tells what it was like to reunite with her two daughters 26 years after making the painful decision to leave them behind in her native country, El Salvador.

 “I hugged them with all my heart and we spent hours talking. One of my daughters has a bachelor’s degree in language and the other became a doctor this year,” she said.

Cuellar says all the BHRS Health Ambassador Program (HAP) trainings she participated in helped her become a better parent while raising her other two children here in the U.S.  

She is one of nearly 30 people who have graduated since the program’s inception in 2014.

Health Ambassadors help link individuals to care by spreading awareness about BHRS resources and services and in turn helps BHRS better understand the community’s needs.   

To read more BHRS “Wellness Matters” newsletter articles, click here.

Suicide Prevention Month Mini-Grants and Call for Events – Applications Due July 12

We are three months away from September Suicide Prevention Month (SPM) (and Recovery Month!) which includes National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8-14) and World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). SPM aims to empower everyone in the community to prevent suicide.

This year, we are partnering with libraries and community agencies in San Mateo County to promote the theme of interpersonal connectedness (positive relationships between individuals). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that studies show that connectedness is overall an important protective factor for suicide and states, “[c]onnectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation or loneliness, and an increased number of positive relationships.”

Each year, the San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Office of Diversity & Equity and Suicide Prevention Committee publishes a Calendar of Events which promotes the SPM events broadly across local providers, partners and community in San Mateo County. For the first time, we will also be offering mini-grants for selected recipients.

  • If you would like your SPM event listed on the printed calendar AND would like to apply for the mini-grant for your event, please complete this online application by  Friday, July 12, 2019.
  • If you would like your SPM event listed on the printed calendar ONLY, please complete this online application by  Friday, July 12, 2019.

Any events submitted after this deadline will likely not be on the printed calendar but can be posted on our county suicide prevention website at smchealth.org/SuicidePrevention.

If you have any questions, please contact Suicide Prevention Committee Co-Chairs Islam Hassanein (islam.hassanein@star-vista.org)  and/or Sylvia Tang (stang@smcgov.org).

Lived Experience Academy Graduates New Speakers

People from the BHRS Lived Experience Academy say they are graduating feeling hopeful, inspired and proud.

Graduate Velisha Sorooshian (center), Kevin Jones, Executive Director, Telecare (left) and Scott Gilman, BHRS Director (right).

“What I didn’t expect was the emotional impact these classes would have on me. I wasn’t expecting everyone’s traumatic stories to grip my heart in such a deep way,” said Lucas, a recent graduate.

Participants learn how to share their personal stories in the 10-hour program and how to see their challenges as a source of hope, strength and wisdom to redefine their narrative.

It’s given me the tool of knowing how to utilize my voice,” said one participant.

14 people recently graduated from the program, funded by the Mental Health Services Act.

Read more in the latest BHRS “Wellness Matters” newsletter.

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