Author Archives: Siavash Zohoori

Youth Mental Health First Aid Summer Highlights!

To date, San Mateo County has trained 1,837 people in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA)! Below are some of our recent highlights from this summer.

On June 23rd, twenty-seven CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of San Mateo County staff and volunteers were trained in YMHFA. Read more

Women in County Government (WICG) Holds End-of-Summer Event: Empowerment

By Austyn Lee, Office of Diversity and Equity Summer Intern

On Tuesday, August 8th, the County of San Mateo’s Women in County Government (WICG) hosted an end-of-summer event called Empowerment at 555 Marshall Street in Redwood City.

WICG was initially founded in 1985 to help women develop professionally for managerial roles in the county. The goal of WICG is to increase efficiency and job satisfaction of women in all levels in the county and promote a workplace culture that values diversity and respect for people of all backgrounds. The Empowerment event was crafted around this goal by inspiring us to lift each other up and help each other get to where we want to be in life. Read more

Growing Better Lives at Phoenix Garden


Open to the general public, the Phoenix Garden is a seven-acre, county-owned site that has been set aside to provide therapy for vulnerable children and teens on the road of rehabilitation. The incorporation of gardening makes it possible for youth with traumatic experiences to benefit from exposure to nature and the company of County workers, family members, and friends. Through commitment from volunteers, the project is now coming into fruition to provide new opportunities for youth with a promising future. Read more

Get Certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid!

Youth Mental Health First Aid is being offered on Thursday, October 26th at the San Mateo County Office of Education. Sign up today! Class limit is 30 people.

Learn how to recognize the warning signs and risk factors of a mental health challenge and how to offer support that can make a real difference in a young person’s life! Educate and empower yourself to help bridge the gap between an adolescent experiencing a mental health crisis and getting appropriate professional help.

Classroom teachers, school site administrators, school office personnel, coaches, bus drivers, afterschool providers, parents, teacher’s aides, school health aides, yard duty staff, crossing guards, peers and other school personnel are strongly encouraged to become Youth Mental Health First Aiders. Certified instructors are available to teach this course through an engaging curriculum that is welcoming to all at no cost.

Register by October 19th at the following link:

For more information about YMHFA contact Natalie Andrade at or 650-372-8548

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LEEW Ice Cream Social!

The Lived Experience Education Workgroup (LEEW) held a summer social earlier this month. Fruit and ice pops kept everyone cool, as we took turns asking ice breaker questions such as, “What would others be surprised to know about you?” and “What three words would you use to describe yourself?”. Read more

BHRS African American Community Initiative Presents at Board of Supervisors Meeting

By Austyn Lee, Office of Diversity & Equity Summer Intern

On Tuesday, July 25th, the African American Community Initiative (AACI) gave a presentation entitled “Conversations about Black History Year” at the Board of Supervisors Meeting in the Redwood City Hall of Justice and Records.

The AACI is one of the county’s nine Health Equity Initiatives (HEI) that address racial, ethnic, and cultural disparities within BHRS. AACI aims to be a resource for African American community members who experience disparities in access to and quality of care in our county. Read more

Office of Diversity and Equity Kicks off New Fiscal Year with 100th YMHFA Session!

Wednesday, July 5th marked the 100th Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) session for San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity. The YMHFA training took place at Puente de la Costa Sur in Pescadero.

Puente is the only Community Resource Center serving San Mateo County’s rural South Coast. According to a recent report prepared by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in February 2017, the South Coast is “home to about 2,950 largely marginalized and isolated residents, mostly Latino farm and nursery workers and their families, as well as low-income Caucasian residents.” Considered that the South Coast is the Bay Area’s most rural zone, communities in the region have no emergency room, public library, public park, childcare center, affordable grocery store, laundromat, sewage system or flood control system. Read more

BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity and Alcohol and Other Drug Attend 2017 CPI Regional Training in Sacramento

Last week, San Mateo County BHRS and partner organizations traveled to Sacramento for the annual Community Prevention Initiative (CPI) Regional Trainings hosted by the Center for Applied Research Solutions (CARS).  This year, the CPI Regional Trainings theme is Cultural Competence, a guiding principle of the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF).  If you would like a copy the conference presentations and resources contact Colin Hart at

The breadth of presentations was far reaching to include topics such as:

  • Gathering Culturally Competent Data & Culturally Competent Evaluation
  • Strategies for Gathering Culturally Competent Data for American Indian/Alaska Native Populations
  • Youth Culture & Substance Use Disorder Youth Panel
  • Creating Culturally Competent Substance Use Disorder Prevention Services for LGBTQ Populations
  • Cultural Competency in Working with Immigrant and Refugee Populations
  • Cultural Competency SUD Prevention Services for Native Populations
  • Preventing Substance Use Disorders in Rural California

Read more

Farewell to ODE Interns!

As the fiscal year comes to a close, so does this round of ODE’s interns. We are so excited for our interns to move forward in their careers with an enhanced understanding of health policy and community planning, cultural competence and cultural humility, health disparities, health inequities, and stigma in different communities.

The three mental health interns gave presentations to our team about their work in ODE. Each intern primarily worked within their own programs: Kristie with Parent Project, Janette with youth and adult Mental Health First Aid, and Chenece with Directing Change film contest and screening. They all shared their achievements, challenges, and next steps.

In her exit report, Kristie writes, “The Parent Project Reunion, my biggest project during my internship, has greatly increased my knowledge of community program planning, and I am particularly proud of my work for the reunion because I was able to see it through from start to finish. Through the ODE intern and New Staff Trainings and organizational cultures of the office, I have learned how to actively practice cultural competency and humility in ways such as using person-first language, recognizing and challenging personal biases and assumptions, and avoiding words that stigmatize those experiencing a mental health challenge.” Watch the video of Frances (our Parent Project coordinator) presenting Kristie with her certificate of completion, and check out pictures of the rest of our interns and their certificates below.


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