Author Archives: Kristie Lui

Theatre of the Oppressed: Workshop Brings Diverse Staff Together to Explore Oppression in Everyday Lives

During Mental Health Awareness Month, the Community Health Promotion Unit hosted a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop to build awareness – through an embodied, experiential and participatory process – around root causes of health disparities. Participants explored the interwoven nature of trauma and oppression, exposing systems of oppression that perpetuate inequities along racial, ethnic, gender and socio-economic lines. Through story and theatre, participants explored their own awareness of power, privilege and oppression that exists around them as well as counter-oppressive solutions to implement in prevention and community work.

Native and Indigenous Peoples Initiative (NIPI) Co-Chair, Gloria Gutierrez, participated in the workshop describing it as a space for participants

“To express [themselves] void of judgement. As an individual that has been dedicated to learn about other cultures and communities I found [it] incredibly valuable. I would definitely recommend this training to my colleagues and community members as is teaches us a different approach to handle difficult issues.”

Another participant, Sylvia Tang, Co-Chair for the Chinese Health Initiative reflected,

“The training inspired me to think more deeply about the oppressive and liberating features of our Chinese culture that I have experienced. Hierarchy/compliance can be oppressive on the one hand but the fire for family unity/well-being can be liberating on the other hand. While many assume Chinese may quiet and compliant, there are many examples where Chinese-Americans have resisted and fought for the rights of our family’s well-being, including fighting for basic educational and legal rights during the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act.”

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From Parent Project Graduates to Youth Mental Health First Aiders

Parent Project graduates taking Youth Mental Health First Aid

Parent Project graduates taking Youth Mental Health First Aid at Mills High School in April 2018

When parents and caregivers sign up to take the 12 week Parent Project course, they might not know what is in store for them. A sense of community is built in those short weeks and the knowledge gained sparks a deeper interest to continue learning to help others and their children.

By offering a Youth Mental Health First Aid training after Parent Project, parents and caregivers learn why knowing the signs of a mental health challenge or crisis, including suicide, can help their children. For many, their children are first generation U.S. born children, who face the challenges of growing up in a culture different from their parents. For many parents and caregivers attending the training, trying to understand the world their children are growing up in and finding the support from their peers in the room is the most beneficial aspect of their time in the class.

The Parent Project® is a free, 12-week course that is offered in English and Spanish to anyone who cares for a child or adolescent. For more information, please contact Frances Lobos at flobos@smcgov.org.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) course is an 8-hour public education training program designed for any adult working with or assisting young people, ages 12-24. For more information on Youth Mental Health First Aid, please contact Natalie Andrade at nandrade@smcgov.org

To learn more about other programs and classes similar to these, visit the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE)’s website here

Written by Natalie Andrade, YMHFA Program Coordinator

Office of Diversity and Equity Job and Internship Anouncements

ODE Logo_Hi Res_Transparent.pngThe Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) is excited to announce two new job and internship opportunities. ODE advances health equity in behavioral health outcomes of marginalized communities throughout San Mateo County. ODE works to empower communities; influence policy and system changes; develop strategic and meaningful partnerships; and promote workforce development and transformation within BHRS. 

1) ODE is seeking Community Health Planners.

There are currently two vacancies 1) a permanent Community Health Planner position that will support Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) implementation and technical assistance across BHRS; and 2) a limited-term position, through June 30, 2021, that will support the development and implementation of a comprehensive, outcome-based evaluation, data collection and reporting infrastructure for MHSA funded programs.

Application available here

2) ODE is seeking Cultural Stipend Internship Program (CSIP) interns.

The 2018-19 Cultural Stipend Internship Program (CSIP) Awardees complete and present their cultural humility related projects to clinic sites, Health Equity Initiatives (HEI), and community groups. CSIP awardees spend the academic year participating in one of nine HEIs and coordinating a year-long project, in addition to their regular duties as clinical interns. 

CSIP provides a stipend of $5,000 awarded annually to up to 20 interns. Awardees are selected based on their expressed interest in and commitment to cultural awareness and social justice in both community and clinical settings; personal identification with marginalized communities; and/ or lived experience with behavioral health conditions. Priority is given to bilingual and/ or bi-cultural applicants whose cultural background and experience is similar to underserved communities in San Mateo County. Once selected, awardees are then matched with an HEI and tasked with conducting a project that helps BHRS becomes more culturally sensitive on a systemic level, and more accessible to marginalized communities. 

Application available here. 

To learn more about the Office of Diversity and Equity, visit our website at http://www.smchealth.org/bhrs/ode

For other job and internship opportunities with ODE visit https://www.smchealth.org/pod/job-internship-opportunities

*Job Announcement* Director of the Office of Diversity and Equity

The County of San Mateo Health System is seeking a Director for the Office of Diversity and Equity. The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) advances health equity in behavioral health outcomes of marginalized communities throughout San Mateo County. Achieving health equity means that everyone in San Mateo County has a fair and just opportunity to experience positive behavioral health outcomes. This requires a concerted effort throughout BHRS, community-based partners and other County departments. ODE’s focus is to help facilitate this effort through the development of a workforce that prioritizes equity, cultural humility and inclusion; empowering individuals with lived experience, families and community members; fostering strategic and meaningful partnerships; and influencing organizational level policies and systems change across the county, region and state.

Learn more about ODE here: www.smchealth.org/ode

View the job announcement and application instructions here: http://jobs.smcgov.org/office-of-diversity-and-equity-director-open-andamp-promotional/job/8435794

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Police Victimization: A Link to Suicide

Among many different factors, one’s environment can play a major role in increasing risk for suicide. Almost 57% of suicide risk can be attributed traumatic events occurring in one’s physical and social environments. Stressful life events experienced at the neighborhood and community levels can create feelings of hopelessness, fear, sorrow, and despair. If left untreated, such feelings can translate to suicidal thoughts and/or attempts. One major environmental exposure of concern is police victimization, whose impacts stem beyond its immediate effects on death and physical harm. 

A study published just last year, found a 12-month prevalence of suicide attempts among individuals with lifetime exposure to police victimization. Police victimization was defined as: physical violence, physical violence with a weapon, sexual assault, psychological victimization, and neglect. Racial/ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, males, and low income populations disproportionately experienced and/or witnessed police victimization. Suicide attempts were highest among individuals specifically exposed to assaultive forms of police victimization such as physical violence, physical violence with a weapon, and sexual assault. In brief, it was established that assaultive police victimization is strongly associated with suicide attempts.

Given its serious collateral effects on mental health, there is an urgent need to prevent suicide among marginalized communities heavily exposed to police victimization. Comprehensive, trauma-informed trainings for police officers are one of many upstream approaches to help prevent exposure to police victimization. Trainings should specifically include information on Race-Based Trauma, given that police victimization is most commonly reported by African American and Latino populations. Additionally, people reporting exposure to police victimization should be screened for suicide ideation and/or attempts with tools that specifically assess for physical and sexual violence during police-community encounters. Screenings should then of course be followed by appropriate ongoing treatment and support. Applying both a preventive and treatment lens to this issue is critical, as it will ensure that we are fully supporting the lives, health, and wellbeing of individuals and entire communities impacted by police victimization.

San Mateo County’s Suicide Prevention Committee is currently focusing on two workgroups: QPR training and outreach. To learn more about the Suicide Prevention Committee, and how to become a member of the committee, visit here

Written by Angelica Delgado, Office of Diversity and Equity

 

New Study Reveals Loneliness is an Epidemic

AVG Loneliness Score in America

Possible loneliness scores range from 20 to 80, with the total average national loneliness score in America reaching 44. Source: Cigna

On May 1st, Cigna, a global health service company, revealed results from a national survey examining the impact of loneliness in the United States.

Using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, one of the best known tools for measuring loneliness, the results showed that of the 20,000 adults (ages 18 and older) surveyed across the country:

  • Nearly half (46%) reported sometimes or always feeling alone or left out.
  • Roughly 1 in 4 (27%) also reported rarely or never feeling as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Only around half of Americans(53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
  • Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generationand claims to be in worse health than older generations. This finding has not been found to have a correlation with social media. Adults within this age group who use social media comparing with adults within this age group who do not use social media were found to exhibit the same percentage of loneliness.

According to David Cordani, CEO of Cigna Corp, “There’s a blurred line between mental and physical health. Oftentimes, medical symptoms present themselves and they’re correlated with mental, lifestyle, behavioral issues like loneliness.”

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13 Reasons Why Season 2 Date Announcement Encourages Parents to Start Conversation

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With the start date of 13 Reasons Why Season 2 announced to be on May 18, youth crisis services are distributing resources online in preparation for youth who will be re-watching season 1. They encourage all to remind parents that while the show may be okay for fairly well adjusted teens to watch, the show can be triggering for those who are not or have had trauma or thoughts of suicide.

The 13 Reasons Why Discussion Guide encourages parents to watch the show with their teens, and encourage discussion afterwards. The guide also provides specific discussion questions and points that parents may use as conversation starters.

Many have taken issue with the season 1 release of the Netflix original, accusing the show of glorifying and romanticizing teen suicide. In response to this backlash, the show will be making a few adjustments to the second season such as having different cast members appear at the beginning of each episode warning of the content as well as an aftershow for the actors to have discussions and dialogues with mental health professionals and educators about the show.

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History Meets the Present: The Continued Resilience of East Palo Alto

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History has a way of centering us in our truth. It opens windows and doors into a deeper part of us and others. We begin to understand how things came to be, why your now citizen father grits his teeth every time he crosses a border, why there was a golf course in your neighborhood gated by a 20 foot fence that you never questioned, and even why you are determined to remain grateful no matter what life hands you.

It is one thing to visit a community, shop at their local grocery store, question what others have told you of this place and admire the warmth this community radiates. However, it is an entirely different experience to spend weeks gathering historical information about a community and then make eye contact. The closest comparison I can think of is accidentally opening East Palo Alto’s (EPA) diary, where they stored hopes, where they drew their future, and all the tear stained pages where they wrote about their trauma. There I sat flipping pages that looked like news articles, academic papers, and magazine spotlights that detailed the most intimate and violent experiences that this community had endured.

Through my research I learned about the redlining of EPA, and how this practice which backs mortgage lending to certain White neighborhoods and excludes others that house minorities, shaped what EPA would become. What this practice meant for residents was that they could not secure access to mortgages or capital so their property values were capped, and their access to gaining generational wealth was stifled. It also hardened racial divides, and left African American folk with limited options for where they could live.

The research revealed many personal stories of the first African Americans moving to the county and their neighbors protesting their arrival outside their homes and creating an environment of hostility so toxic that there was no choice but to move.

Additionally, there were also stories of folks moving to EPA and finding community, raising their children among family and developing strong social and community bonds.

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May 1: Parent Education Night – Westmoor High School

On Tuesday May 1st, Westmoor High School in Daly City will be hosting a Parent Education night for May Mental Health Awareness Month. This will occur between 6:30-8:30 p.m. Panelists will talk about different concerns that students may face such as student stress, mental health concerns, and suicide. This is a great opportunity for parents to gain additional information and support. A FREE dinner will be served, and there will be Spanish interpretation services available as well. RSVP Links Below!

Please let your community and networks know of this free event!

English RSVP: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Ezg_0C4ozLFxiAyNRmAquHlUEwt5Sw7ojv6brTmOWJU/viewform?edit_requested=true

Spanish RSVP: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1KKBNMC07j4VzsGDwzVYtU_hZ6xEn7z-0-W-IGuU6eFI/viewform?edit_requested=true

Are Implicit Bias Trainings Enough to Actually Stop Incidents Like Philadelphia Starbucks?

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On 4/12, two black men were sitting at a table at Starbucks without making a purchase and were arrested when declining a store manager’s demand to leave.

Since then, Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson has announced changes to its policy including mandatory implicit bias tests, shutting down all US Starbucks stores on May 29th. This opens larger conversations about what is implicit bias, how it can be harmful, and whether Starbucks’ implicit bias test can actually make a difference.

Implicit bias refers to the automatic associations people have in their minds about a group of people, including stereotypes. They are formed subconsciously and unintentionally, but result in the prejudiced behaviors, attitudes, and actions for or against a person or group of people.

According to CNN, studies have shown that implicit bias contributes to “shooter bias”, the tendency for the police to shoot unarmed black suspects more often than white ones

Starbucks’ Implicit Bias training intends to combat the issue of implicit bias. However according to Cornell professor, Michelle Duguid’s research, sometimes implicit bias trainings have a negative effect on its audience; by explaining to people that stereotyping is common, people are sometimes actually more likely to express those biases.

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