Author Archives: Doris Estremera

Sharing Our Gender Pronouns

Gender PronounBy Sylvia Tang, Community Health Planner
By Siavash Zohoori, Storytelling Program Specialist
Since February 2017, Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) staff have added gender pronouns to our e-mail signatures and started introducing ourselves in meetings with our gender pronouns.

Why is this important?
It is important for us to share our pronouns because we cannot know someone’s pronoun just by knowing their sex or the way a person looks or sounds.  And accurately using a person’s pronoun is a basic way to validate and respect one’s gender identity.

While I am usually addressed by my correct pronouns (She/Her/Hers), I know many transgender and gender non-conforming individuals do not have that same privilege. On a daily basis, many of our clients/consumers, family members and community members feel invalidated and disrespected by individuals and institutions because they were not correctly addressed with their pronoun. This is especially concerning since sexual minorities are more likely to have substance use and mental health issues compared to sexual majority counterparts, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

What can you do?

Whether you are a working professional, student or community member, you can add your pronoun in your e-mail signature or add your pronouns to your name tags (see image). Read more

Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are socioeconomic factors that affect the health of individuals and communities and drive inequities in health based on where we live, the state of our environment, our income and education level, our socioeconomic status and even our relationships with friends and family.

The importance of addressing SDOH can be seen in this month’s infographic regarding High School graduation rates in terms of race/ ethnicity.


According to the infographic, the lowest percentage of on-time high school graduation rate was seen from those identified as American Indian or Alaska Native non-Hispanic followed by Black non-Hispanic and then Hispanic. The fact there is a 10% jump from the Hispanic race/ethnicity group to the White non-Hispanic group shows inequity is a real and existing issue. Read more

Broadway by the Bay Opens the Dialogue About Mental Illness

Broadway by the Bay will be presenting NEXT TO NORMAL a contemporary musical addressing several mental health issues such as ethics in modern psychiatry, mental illness, grief and lose, drug abuse, and the power of love and sheds light on a few subject matters still considered taboo in many communities and allows the opportunity to open the conversation about mental illness and its impact on families.


NEXT TO NORMAL is a brave and breathtaking musical that the New York Times calls “… a feel everything musical.” The contemporary musical follows the journey of the Goodman family. While on the surface, suburban parents Dan and Diana, and their children Natalie and Gabi appear a “perfect loving family”, beneath the surface shows how far two parents will go to keep themselves sane and their family’s world intact.

NEXT TO NORMAL is running August 11 – 27, 2017 at the historic Fox Theatre in Redwood City.  For more information visit or check out the flyer.




Mental Health Matters in the Northwest County! 


#TBT (Throwback Thursday): One of our Mental Health Awareness Month Mini-Grant Awardees, the Northwest Community Service Area (CSA), hosted Lime Green Champion Ribbon Walls at 5 agencies.


The wall demonstration acknowledges the important role support networks play in individual’s mental health wellness and recovery.

Northwest CSA Manager, Tim Holechek shares his experience with the ribbon walls:

In observance of May Mental Health Awareness Month, North County Mental Health Clinic and four partner agencies- Pyramid Alternatives, Daly City Youth Health Center, Pacifica Resource Center, and the Daly City Partnership- hosted Ribbon Walls at their respective sites throughout  the month of May.  The response was great, with dozens of individuals who use the services of these agencies identifying their “lime green champions” and giving them a grateful shout-out with a lime green ribbon on the wall.  Their champions  are individuals, organizations, pets, etc. who people, facing the challenges of having a mental health condition, rely on for support and maintenance of their stability and well-being.  The Ribbon Wall activity clearly demonstrated the power of people’s support networks, however big or small, in helping folks with mental health conditions maintain hope, feel cared about, and connected with others in their recovery.  And as long as there are people in our communities who will extend themselves to support a person with a mental health condition, there is hope that together we can overcome the stigma experienced by those whose lives have been impacted by mental health.

Inspired by our North County community’s work in showcasing our mental health support network? Learn how to create your own Lime Green Champion Ribbon Wall in your lobby, store or other public space at


MHSA 3-Year Prioritization Results

Last week over 150 advocates, providers and clients came together for the final MHSA 3-Year Plan Prioritization Session.  Clients and service providers shared their heart felt stories and public comments in support of 17 priority recommendations, selected through extensive input from over 60 input sessions throughout the County and across sectors and services.

During the meeting, there was an opportunity to propose additional recommendations and all participants voted across these additional recommendations.  The meeting ended with the MHSA Steering Committee voting to prioritize across all recommendations. These priority recommendations help inform any new programs, strategies or expansions in services in the event of increased MHSA revenue.  To view the materials, presentation, prioritization results and a few public comments, please visit the MHSA website,

IMG_7951Yolanda Novelo, Peer Support Worker and Ziomara Ochoa, Clinical Services Manager representing the Coastside Community Service Area

Thank you to all who participated and especially to those who prepared for and shared their stories!


10th Annual Family Awareness Night in East Palo Alto

In celebration of National Mental Health Awareness Night, the East Palo Alto Behavioral Health Advisory Group is hosting their 10th Annual Family Awareness Night, “10 Years of Combatting Trauma!” Healthy Minds, Choices, Families and Community, on May 18 from 5:30pm – 8pm at the East Palo Alto Academy, 1050 Myrtle Street in East Palo Alto.

The Family Awareness Night has become part of a mental health awareness movement in East Palo Alto that has been happening since 2005.

EPA Family Awareness Night



Waverly Place Apartments Development will Break Ground on May 9th!

The long awaited Waverly Place Apartments, funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA),  will break ground on May 9th. The housing development in North Fair Oaks area of Redwood City includes 15 supported housing units for individuals with severe mental illness, please join the Mental Health Association (MHA) and partners in celebrating.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
105 Fifth Avenue, Redwood City


Please plan to carpool or park across the street in the lot at 114 Fifth Avenue or on the street to the East or West. We respectfully request that you do not park in the neighborhood behind the Waverly Place site.

MHA has built and rehabilitated properties to create homes for people with mental illness since 1946. The Mental Health Services Act Housing Program provided funds for permanent supportive housing for individuals with severe mental illness and that meet the MHSA eligibility criteria as homeless or at-risk of being homeless. Supportive housing is community-based housing that is affordable to clients on a permanent basis, provides all the rights and responsibilities of tenancy, and is accompanied by appropriate and voluntary social services.

Pages from waverly-place-proposed-apartments105 Fifth Ave, Redwood City, CA – Proposed view from Waverly Street West


San Mateo Pride Center Community Forums

Calling all LGBTQ+ Community Members and Allies! Join the new Pride Center staff and partners in making history and have a voice in shaping the first ever LGBTQ+ Community Center in San Mateo County!

Building up to OUR GRAND OPENING JUNE 1ST, the Pride Center is hosting two Community Forums.

Wednesday, April 19th from 6:00pm-8:00pm
Saturday, May 13th 11:00am-12:30pm

San Mateo County Pride Center
1021 S. El Camino Real
San Mateo, Ca 94402

Light Refreshments will be served
Language interpretation provided as needed -request services by contacting

View the flyer for more information or contact:
Lisa Putkey, Program Director

13 Reasons Why – Television Series and Suicide Prevention Education

13ReasonsWhyLast Friday (March 31), Netflix released a series based on Jay Asher’s novel Thirteen Reasons Why. The book and series is about 13 reasons why a high school student ultimately made the decision to end her life. While the television series is meant to be a cautionary tale, the Thirteen Reasons Why triggered distressing feelings among viewers.

 As reported on NBC Bay Area News, the San Mateo Foster-City School District sent letters to parents to inform them about the film and provide guidance on how to approach the topic of suicide with their youth. This letter included the JED Foundation and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)’s  talking points for teachers, parents and other gatekeepers to talk to youth about suicide in the context of the film.

 If you or someone you know is considering suicide or any other type of mental health crisis, you can get help at the following crisis hotlines:

1-800-273-TALK (8255) – National Crisis Hotline

650-579-0350 – StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County)

Text “BAY” to 741741

All the above crisis hotlines provide free, confidential and 24/7 support.

More information at


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