The Office of Diversity and Equity is Hiring: Pacific Islander Outreach Worker (Contract Position)

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) is looking to hire a Pacific Islander Outreach Worker – Contract Position. We are looking for a bilingual Outreach Worker to provide behavioral health outreach and engagement services to Pacific Islander communities, including immigrants, living in San Mateo County. The PI Outreach Worker is an agile position.

Applicants should have a passion for eliminating mental health stigma and empowering low-income and underserved communities.

Please submit a cover letter briefly describing your interest and how you are prepared to outreach and engage Pacific Islander communities along with your resume to Jei Africa at JAfrica@smcgov.org. For questions, please call (650) 573-2714.

View the job description and read about the responsibilities and qualifications here: http://jobs.smcgov.org/community-program-specialist-outreach-worker-samoan-tongan-speaking-limited-term-open/job/6814236

“Be the One to Direct Change”: Recapping the First Local Directing Change Film Screening

This year, ODE had the honor of hosting its first local film screening to celebrate the youth and young adults who participated in the statewide Directing Change Program and Film Contest! I had the pleasure of organizing the event, and even I was taken aback by the way it organically manifested itself to embody all the festiveness and jubilance of a school environment, with the extra touch of ODE’s warm community welcoming!

Seven film teams were recognized for their hard work, with an additional nine honorary mention for films that were created but had not been officially submitted. The night celebrated the important roles played by the five film advisors who supported the seven films coming from Aragon High School, Burlingame High School, Woodside High School, and Str8 Jacket, a local dance group. It was rewarding to watch the audience of BHRS employees, community members, students, their families, and others consume the talent and wisdom condensed into 60 seconds of mental health awareness content, and interact with the organizations present at the resource table section from Youth Leadership Institute, Pacifica Prevention Partnership (members of the North County Prevention Partnership), and the San Mateo County Pride Center. Even more riveting was the way the room received and connected with the eight panelists for over 30 minutes as they shared their experiences, perspectives, and feedback about the films submitted into Directing Change in comparison to over media’s stigmatizing display of mental illness. The panel was composed of the regional third place filmmakers from the Public and Mental Health Advocacy Club of Burlingame High School, adolescent peer advisors from Be the Change Youth Coalition, a collegiate representative from Pacifica Prevention Partnership, a graduated parent from the Lived Experience Academy, and BHRS’s Crisis Coordinator, Molly Hendricks. Through the empathic guidance of ODE’s own Siavash Zohoori as the moderator, each panel member vulnerably shared experiences such as individual cultural stigma about mental health, personal involvement with helping a loved one through a crisis, and combatting media misrepresentation in popular movies and shows like 13 Reason Why. (Click the following link to learn how responsibly address suicide depicted in media: 13 Reasons Why Talking Points.)

Beyond films, food, and panelist, the night was infused with music for mingling and great family-friendly raffle prizes for the community to enjoy! If you were not able to attend, you missed a great event, and even greater films! Luckily, there’s a solution for the latter issue. To view the films submitted in this year’s season of Directing Change Program and Film Contest, visit this link: http://www.directingchange.org/films-by-county/#San Mateo.

To learn more on how you can get ready for the next season of the Directing Change Program and Film Contest to participate as a film advisor, film judge, or filmmaker (high school students, or youth and young adults ages 14 – 2–), visit http://www.directingchange.org/ or contact Sylvia Tang (stang@smcgov.org).

Written by: Chenece Blackshear

My Continued Quest as a Mental Health First Aider: Uniting to “Send Silence Packing”

“Thanks to being a Mental Health First Aider, I feel empowered to fight for my community to increase its ability to prevent and intervene in suicidal acts on our campus.” These words were written by me in an article titled Increasing Shared empowerment and Responsibility: My Quest as a Mental Health First Aider after my campus (San Jose State University) experienced its second traumatizing public suicide completion in our Martin Luther King Jr. – SJSU Library. It was an event that created emotional weariness for the entire student community, as well as hypervigilance for faculty and staff as it casted a gloom over the start of our spring 2017 semester. There were a myriad of initiatives made by the administration and faculty that provided students some hope, but the impact resonated differently when SJSU’s chapter of Active Minds hosted a wonderfully received Send Silence Packing event that was presented on San Jose State University’s Tower Lawn on April 21st .

I was ecstatic to volunteer, and on the day of the event I woke up early in the morning to commute to campus and arrive by 6:30 am to lay 1,100 of donated backpacks onto the dewy green grass: each one representing the number of college students who die by suicide each year. As the first wave of Spartans arrived to campus to shuffle to their 7:30am classes, each backpack caught their eyes. Some students glanced momentarily and continued towards their destinations, but the majority of others stopped to ask me and fellow Active Minds members what these backpacks symbolized. As a team, we strategized to share the statistic of college students dying by suicide, but to place greater emphasis on the importance of how to identify if a friend, loved one, or stranger is in a crisis and is contemplating dying by suicide. Additionally, I was responsible for researching data about the antecedents, attempts, and completion rates for my Santa Clara County community – a skill that interning for San Mateo County truly reinforced – composing informational flyers, and verbally sharing the facts!

The amount of buy-in I witnessed was only the tip of the iceberg. Before my volunteer shift ended, I saw hundreds of students and dozens of community members stop to discuss the facts, read the stories of those who had passed away, and learn more about how to help others in need. The day after the event, I received an email recounting how thousands of students engaged with our work, which brought me such a salient feeling of peace of mind to know that by working together we accomplished connecting with our campus and neighborhood communities to speak up about the importance of more people having better awareness of the signs of suicide. I felt peace of mind because through the sorrow we all felt, we created a huge impact, and now I am motivated to help more Spartans become certified Mental Health First Aiders like me!

Written by: Chenece BlackshearCopy of Untitled design.jpg

San Mateo County Pride PUPs

Here at ODE, we’ve been trying out a new way of capturing stories from the community. We call it PUP, which is short for Pop-Up Photovoice. June 10th was San Mateo County’s Pride event in the park, and we captured stories about Pride. Our framing question was, “What does Pride mean to you?”. Some shared stories of celebration, while others shared stories of hardship and resilience. Stories shared anonymously are placed with the intersectional Pride flag, which includes brown and black stripes.

We ask that you reflect on your role with the community as you look through these Pop-Up Photovoices.

If you’d like to run PUP on your own, or invite us to capture stories in your community, email Siavash Zohoori at szohoori@smcgov.org

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Join NAMI for Capitol Advocacy Day on July 18

In May 2008, the US house of Representatives proclaimed July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in recognition that:

  • Improved access to mental health treatment and services and public awareness of mental illness are of paramount importance: and
  • An appropriate month should be recognized to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.

Each year, NAMI California invites community members from all over the state to come together for the annual Minority Mental Health Month Capitol Advocacy Day.  Last year, 23 participants from diverse backgrounds and experience came together for this important day  to advocate for bills that would affect thousands of families and peers, conducting a total of 30 legislative office visits in one day!

Join NAMI and community members for their next Capitol Advocacy Day on July 18, 2017.  Learn more on how to apply to attend Minority Mental Health Capitol Advocacy Day.

Parent Project Reunion

On Sunday, May 21st, the Office of Diversity and Equity held its 4th annual celebration for our Parent Project® graduates. Over 100 attendees came to spend the afternoon with their fellow classmates and facilitators. To the tune of “We are family” by Sister Sledge, families enjoyed fun activities, dancing, and raffles. More importantly, had the opportunity to reflect on the amazing achievements of this program.  After taking Parent Project®, more than twice as many parents were very satisfied with their parenting skills and 73% more parents were more satisfied with their relationship with their children. Parent Project® has provided 51 classes throughout San Mateo County since 2013.

We’d like to give a special thank you to La Hacienda Market for catering the event, and the award winning dance team Str8Jacket in collaboration with the Aragon High School dance team for providing the entertainment. Thank you to the Office of Diversity and Equity Staff and BHRS Volunteers for making this event a success.

Parent Project© will begin a Spanish class for the summer on Thursday, June 15th. For more information please contact Frances Lobos at (650) 372-3272 or flobos@smcgov.org

Written by: Frances Lobos

San Mateo County Pride Center: Grand Opening!

It was a historic evening in San Mateo, on Thursday June 1st. With the grand opening of the Pride Center, San Mateo has created a space in which people who identify as LGBTQ+ will have a space for community events, therapy, and other awesome classes: I’m specifically looking forward to their cooking class.

Check out the Pride Center’s facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/SanMateoCountyPrideCenter/

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