Author Archives: Kristie Lui

FMHI and PII Collaborate to Host 1st Mental Health First Aid for API Community


On Saturday, April 21st, the Filipino Mental Health Initiative(FMHI) and Pacific Islander Initiative(PII) welcome all to attend this upcoming Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. 

This training is the standard MHFA training, but also incorporates Asian- Pacific Islander (API) culturally-responsive material: giving participants an opportunity to learn about how to help friends and family members, who may be experiencing a mental health condition or crisis, and get certified.

This event is of huge importance for San Mateo County’s API community for a few reasons. SMC’s API community continues to have a lot of stigma around mental health; there remains a division between SMC’s API community; and there is not much available data and resources around mental health for the community. 

The goals of this event are to:

  • Decrease stigma around mental health in the API community
  • Build solidarity among APIs
  • Bring visibility to API communities to gain more data and resources around mental health Read more

Wellness, Resilience and Recovery: Black History Month Event Reflection

On Saturday January 27th, BHRS’ African American Community Initiative (AACI) hosted their 2018 Black History Month event and health fair.  The theme was Wellness, Resilience and Recovery, with the purpose of empowering the community to take charge of their wellness and recovery using the resilience inside us all, and to celebrate Black History Month.  This year’s event was held in San Mateo at the Martin Luther King Junior Community Center. The event was enjoyed by over 70 people consisting of community members/partners, Health System staff, and consumers.  Over thirty plus community agencies provided information and materials on their services.  

The co-chairs of AACI, Tennille Tucker and Talisha Racy co the hosted the event  with Ms. Tucker leading the singing of the National Black Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.  Opening remarks were provided by Carole Groom of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, David Young, the San Mateo County Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and Rick Bonilla, the Mayor of the City of San Mateo.  Invocation was provided by Elder Alvin Swindell, the Pastor of Macedonia Church of God and Christ.

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What’s Happening in SMC’s LGBTQ+ Community?

PRIDE Center on Spirit Day 2017

Annette photographed second from the right on Spirit Day 10/19/17

As a queer person living in San Mateo County, the monthly Pride Initiative meetings are a haven for me to feel connected to local LGBTQ+ community members. Nothing beats being around a table of beautifully unique and bold community members to talk about the numerous efforts we’re working on to strengthen the sense of LGBTQ+ community in San Mateo County.


Pride Initiative Mixer 6-19-11 001

PRIDE Initiative, 2011

Founded in 2007, the Pride Initiative is a health equity initiative that was created by the Office of Diversity and Equity in recognition that LGBTQ+ folks are often met with culturally inappropriate care and a lack of knowledge by service providers in health settings. Since 2007, the Pride Initiative has met on a monthly basis to organize community-based events, create trainings for service providers and advocate as a community for more LGBTQ+ services within county and community settings.

One such example is sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data collection that will be rolled out this year across BHRS as well as the whole health system; collecting this data will help reduce health disparities experienced by LGBTQ+ folks by normalizing conversations about these aspects of our identities that have a direct impact on our health. Pride Initiative members participated in not only advocating for this, they also contributed to the curriculum that was created to train BHRS staff on how to appropriately serve LGBTQ+ clients and ask SOGI questions with cultural humility.

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The Office of Diversity and Equity Finalizes Their Theory of Change Process

The Office of Diversity and Equityadvances health equity in behavioral health outcomes of marginalized communities throughout San Mateo County.png

In Spring 2017, the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) underwent a Theory of Change process. The intention of the process was to help clarify, shape, and improve the impact of ODE’s efforts.  This was done by identifying expected and desired change, and then mapping out how those changes can be achieved.   

Why a Theory of Change Process?


ODE Director, Dr. Jei Africa in TOC process

Theory of Change (TOC) is a comprehensive description of an expected and desired change. It is focused on mapping out what a program does and how this will lead to the desired change. It does this through a process of backwards mapping, identifying outcomes, indicators that demonstrate when the outcomes have been achieved and interventions to bring forth the indicators. Through this process, the link between activities and achievements are better understood.   Read more

Photovoice Presents: Spirituality in Recovery

Spirituality in Recovery Image

In 2011, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS), Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) created their own “Storytelling Program” that emphasizes the use of personal stories as a means to draw communal attention to mental health and wellness.  Read more

StarVista Launches New Youth Website With Peer to Peer Chat Services

Written by Nicole Marshall, Youth Outreach Coordinator

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           As of January 2018, StarVista, a San Mateo County community based mental health provider, is excited to announce the launching of its fully renovated youth website, This represents a huge success as it represents an expansion of services, and is also a win for the teen volunteers who run the site and have advocated for the changes. The site focuses on mental health and suicide prevention education, offering teen blogs and instant peer to peer chat. Teens are encouraged to seek direct support on a wide range of topics including relationships, stress, bullying, depression, identity, and health. New to the site are several redesigned interactive features: blogs allow visitors of the site to ask questions and leave comments, and new chat software allows seamless connection to fully trained teen counselors Monday through Thursday from 4:30PM to 9:30PM. The best part? and its chat services are now completely mobile accessible. Read more

Empowering Communities Far From Home

Written by Natalie Andrade, Mental Health First Aid


Philippine Consulate’s Mental Health First Aid Training on January 27th.

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) was invited to the Philippine Consulate on Saturday, January 27 to provide a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to consulate staff. The Philippine Consulate provides services to Filipino Nationals in the San Francisco Bay Area. The day was filled with rich conversation about the struggles of feeling homesick and how this can affect one’s mental health, which is a taboo and stigmatized topic in the Filipino community. A participant stated that she was able to feel a connection to the information provided due to the cultural piece both instructors integrated in the course.

The word “homesick” is defined as the experience or longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it. When people leave their home countries, the sense of loss and homesickness is commonly felt. Homesickness is the word used by Philippine Consul General, Hon. Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. in his opening speech during the training to staff to describe the challenges they, as a community, often face when living away from home.

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