May Mental Health Awareness Month Kick Off

May Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) Kick Off Event was a huge success with over 100 people in attendance. The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), along with other organizations serving San Mateo County,  led the planning of this event and many have organized a variety of events throughout the month of May.  The “Be the One” slogan is this year’s MHAM theme and the primary goal is to raise awareness and reduce stigma against individuals with mental health or substance use conditions and learn how to be the one to help.


This year’s Kick Off event consisted of resource tables, a “Be the One” photo booth, art display, community artwork and a digital storytelling panel.  Individuals with lived experience with mental health and/or substance abuse conditions shared their stories through a short video they created that included any combination of video, sound, music, animation, photographs, and other images of their choosing.  Digital stories are an effective means of shedding light on important social issues including stigma and empowering individuals, as they share their personal journey.

Following is a list with links to view the digital stories that were screened in MHAM_KickOff_Image#2this year’s kick off event:


Overall, the the kick off event was a humbling and inspiring experience as participants had the opportunity to listen to speakers who shared their personal stories with behavioral health conditions and also offer their voice through community artwork and their pledges to reduce stigma at the  Be the One photobooth.

ODE thanks all the organizations and planning committee members for the work they put into organizing a very successful Kick Off event, and the events throughout the month of May, as well as all the community members and providers who came out in support!

Written by: Martha Gonzalez