Author Archives: Kristie Lui

FMHI’s Immigrants: At the Crossroads was a Great Success!

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Last Saturday on 12/9, the Social Justice Ministry of St. Andrew Catholic Church partnered with the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FMHI) to host an immigration forum called Immigrants: At the Crossroads. The aim of this event was to empower members of the Filipino community to improve their mental health, increase knowledge about immigrant rights, and let the community know that health is available.

Attorney Lisa M. Newstrom, a managing attorney from Bay Area Legal Aid presented on the rights of noncitizens in healthcare programs. In her work, Newstrom commonly hears questions related to what health care an immigrant or low-income person can receive. Bay Area Legal Aid is able to provide help for low-income people for free, relating to topics of domestic violence, housing preservation, economic security, health access, and consumer protection. They focus on specific client populations, including youth and veterans.

Attorney Lourdes Tancino of Tancino Law Offices also covered updates on immigration laws. Tancino Law Office is a full service law firm assisting clients in business and immigration matters. They specialize in family-based immigration, employment based immigration, temporary work visas, removal/ deportation defense and naturalization.

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How Knowing the Signs Can Help Save a Life

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Natalie Andrade with ALGEE the MHFA mascot

Before I started working at the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), I did not have a clue as to what the warning signs of suicide, depression, and anxiety were. It wasn’t until I became a Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) instructor that I realized the importance of knowing the signs of mental health challenges. During my instructor training, taught by two amazing trainers from the National Council, I felt empowered to go back to my community and teach others important skills one can learn from the training. Knowing the signs of suicide can help save a life, yet the most challenging piece of knowing the signs is having the courage to start the conversation about suicide with someone you are concerned about.

In the YMHFA training, participants practice using a 5-step action plan called ALGEE, which stands for:

 

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

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Mental Health Awareness Poetry Slam at Philz Coffee

The room was filled with a standing audience at the first Mental Health Awareness Poetry Slam at Philz Coffee in Westborough on Friday, November 17 6:00-8:00PM.  District 5 Supervisor David Canepa, the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FHMI) and Chinese Health Initiative (CHI) hosted this event and plan to host more on an ongoing basis. There were youth and adults who shared their poems and many shared very personal lived experience with mental health, addiction and suicidal ideation. The room was filled with not only people but courage from the poets and support from the audience.

Written by Sylvia Tang, Co-Chair of Suicide Prevention Committee

Learn more about suicide prevention at: smchealth.org/suicide-prevention

December 9 – Filipino Mental Health Initiative Immigration Forum

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The Office of Diversity and Equity’s Filipino Mental Health Initiative(FMHI) is excited to announce they will be hosting an immigration forum, Immigrants: At the Crossroads, for the Filipino Community on Saturday, December 9th at St. Andrew Catholic Church Hall in Daly City from 1:30 – 4pm. 

According to Psychiatric Services, the Philippines is the fourth largest country of origin of immigrants to the United States, and the second-fastest-growing Asian immigrant group in the United States. Yet Filipino Americans are shown to significantly under-utilize existing mental health care services that are culturally, socially, and linguistically incompatible with their needs. Along with stigma, the attachment to traditional practices and healing methods remains a notable barrier to appropriate care for the Filipino American community.

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Overcoming Violence against Trans Community

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Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender activist and columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, to recognize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, Rita’s murder exposed the lack of media coverage and particularly, culturally sensitive and respectful media coverage that takes place when transgender members of our community lose their lives to violent hate crimes. The communal anger and grief that was experienced led to a candlelight vigil that was attended by 250 participants.  Eighteen years later, Transgender Day of Remembrance events occur on a national and international basis on November 20th each year, and often include a candlelight procession or vigil within the program.

On November 16th, 2017, San Mateo County Pride Center held San Mateo County’s second annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event. Transgender Day of Remembrance serves multiple purposes– this is a day for folks to come together and publicly mourn the lives of transgender siblings whose lives have been taken from us in brutal acts of violence and hatred, and a day for us to find strength within each other to mobilize and combat the violence our transgender community disproportionally faces. Transgender Day of Remembrance in San Mateo County included community speakers Alyss Swanson, Lexi Shimmers and Dr. Jei Africa, along with altars commemorating the lives of transgender siblings lost in 2016 and 2017, followed by a silent candlelight procession down El Camino Real to Central Park in San Mateo. During the procession, 25 participants traded their candles for signs that were each hand-painted by community members the afternoon prior with the names and ages of the lives we’ve lost in 2017. You can view the memorial we created for 2017 in the slideshow on this blog.

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Native American Heritage Month: The Power of Visibility

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This November, the Office of Diversity and Equity celebrates Native American Heritage Month (NAHM).

With Thanksgiving, a holiday known to be controversial for Native American history, just around the corner, visibility of Native Americans during this month is particularly important. NAHM recognizes the contributions that native peoples have made for our community. It is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of our local tribes and also educate ourselves about the challenges Native people have faced and currently face, including health disparities.

Native Americans face a large number of behavioral health challenges, including suicide risk. Across all ages, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/ AN) populations in the U.S. experience high risk for suicide, with an overall suicide rate of 11.7 individuals per 100,000. This rate is greater than that for all other subgroups except white males, who have a suicide rate of 23.4 individuals per 100,000. Source

The existence of Native American Heritage Month alone does not have the capability to improve the lives or health outcomes of Native Americans living in San Mateo County. We as individuals and as a community must make an active effort to celebrate Native American achievements and educate ourselves about current challenges to make the month meaningful.
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What does “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean for the Latino community?

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For the last 5 years the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Latino Collaborative has put together the Annual Latino Health Forum, “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” to provide an opportunity for Latino families to come together to learn strategies for emotional and physical well-being.

But what does the phrase “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean?

When translated literally it means “heal, heal, little frog’s tail.” This expression is commonly used in many Latino communities to offer consolation when one, specifically a child, has fallen or gotten hurt. The phrase continues with “if you don’t heal today, you will heal tomorrow.” At its core this message is meant to offer relentless encouragement, that while we may be suffering today, things will get better tomorrow. 

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