Category Archives: Adults

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

WRAP Turns 19 Celebration

Please join Voices of Recovery, Telecare, and BHRS in celebrating WRAP’s 19th Birthday with food, fun, and fellowship!

When: Thursday, March 10, 2016

Where: 264 Harbor Blvd. Bldg. A. Jupiter Room, Belmont

Time: 2pm

Special Guest Speakers (via Video Conference) Include:

2:30pm-3:30pm:  Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD–Founder of WRAP

5:30pm-5:45pm: Matthew Federici–Executive Director of the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery

This event is for anyone in the community who is involved or is interested in San Mateo County’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) efforts.

For more information contact:

Jan Allen (650)481-5384, Lee Harrison (650)222-7732, Waynette Brock (650)440-0567

Caminar for Mental Health Receives Grant from the Peninsula Health Care District

Caminar received a $1.9 million grant from the Peninsula Health Care District’s (PHCD) Community Grants Program to support their Bridges to Wellness, a program that integrates primary and behavioral health care services while reducing preventable medical conditions and improving health outcomes.

Bridges to Wellness (BTW) offers a unique, integrated approach to primary and behavioral health care services for adults suffering from severe mental illness and chronic health conditions. BTW helps this vulnerable population prevent, reduce and manage their chronic health conditions through the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices related to diet, physical activity, and substance abuse. Being diagnosed with both mental illness and chronic medical conditions, these clients face exceptionally challenging obstacles in managing their mental and physical health. BTW is able to provide the specialized attention necessary to improve clients’ overall health and prevent health issues. The program empowers participants to make positive, life-long changes to improve their overall mental and physical health, and to prevent the onset or worsening of chronic conditions.  See the entire  press release.

New BHRS Deputy Director Adult/Older Adult Services

I am very pleased to announce that Karen Krahn has been selected to fill the BHRS Deputy Director Adult/Older Adult position.

Karen has an extensive and rich history of experiences in behavioral health services in the public and private sectors. For the past 9+ years she has worked for the state of Hawaii Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Division. Among her responsibilities were directing clinical operations, strategic planning, compliance, performance improvement, forensic and multicultural service programs, implementation and oversight of supported housing, case management, co-occurring programs, supported employment, expansion of career ladder for peer specialists, crisis services, and contracting.

Karen also worked for Magellan Health Services as Vice President of Quality Improvement and was responsible for public sector policy, program development and oversight of quality improvement with 14 Medicaid managed care contracts in 12 states.

With Karen’s background she will be a great help to BHRS as we navigate the many challenges and opportunities that are here and ahead of us in the coming years.
Karen will join us at the end of February

Medication Assisted Treatment Expansion

Recently the Board of Supervisors approved a plan to significantly expand the work that we have been doing over the past 2 years in our pilot project working with people that have intractable issues with chronic alcohol use. The project, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) has been using a medication, Vivitrol along with case management. The results of the pilot have shown significant reductions in emergency room visits, craving and drinking. Based on these results, we have been working with the Health Plan of San Mateo on the plan to expand these efforts that was approved by the Board.

The key components of the plan are outreach and engagement, access to care, medication intervention and management, case management, and peer support.

Palm Avenue detox will devote 3 of their beds for extended stays in order for staff to work with clients on motivation to engage in treatment. Substance Use counselors will be assigned to the San Mateo County Medical Center (SMMC) Emergency Department, SMMC primary care clinics (as part of our Interface team) , and Adult Probation. These counselors will work closely with staff from these services to identify potential clients, engage/support and refer to MAT.

The MAT component will be delivered by HealthRite 360 including medication assessment and management provided by a psychiatrist and nurse practioner, case management, individual and group counseling and education, and peer support provided via a subcontract with Voices of Recovery. On an annual basis we project serving up to 400 people in the MAT and far more through the access components listed above.

We will also be continuing our evaluation to determine the effectiveness of this project. Key components of the evaluation will include emergency room utilization, incarceration, craving to drink, alcohol and drug consumption, employment, housing, and life satisfaction.

We know from the experiences in the pilot that this intervention strategy has not only saved lives but it has helped people recapture their dignity, reunite with family, return to work and generally become part of their community again. With the opportunity supported by the Health Plan of San Mateo and our Board of Supervisors we hundreds more will realize these same amazing results in their lives.

Obamacare: A Boost to Mental Health and Addiction Services

We are now 10 months from the official start of Obamacare and we are seeing the positive impact it is having for people with mental health and/or substance use issues. The Affordable Care Act included as one of the 10 essential benefits treatment for behavioral health (mental health/substance use) conditions. The inclusion of this benefit is critical and set the stage for what State’s would need to include as part of their implementation plan. California’s plan includes a full array of outpatient and residential services that are required for health plans providing coverage under Covered California and for individuals enrolled in the Medi-Cal program. The other significant part of Obamacare is the Medicaid (in California Medi-Cal) Covered Expansion (MCE) which extends Medi-Cal benefits to individuals with incomes of less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level without requiring the person to have a qualifying disability or having children.

In San Mateo County 24,000 people have enrolled in the MCE and the total Medi-Cal population has exceeded 100,000.

Individuals with less severe mental health problems now have access to mental health services. BHRS is working closely with the Health Plan of San Mateo (HPSM) on informing the beneficiaries of this new benefit and on developing a comprehensive network of providers that can respond to the diverse language and cultures of the clientele. Since January we have seen more than a 25% increase in calls for services. Read more

Access to Treatment

On 9/17 we posted a link to a recent Field poll on people’s understanding of what behavioral health treatment benefits are available to them under their insurance benefits, their knowledge of treatment resources and their likelihood of seeking treatment. I would encourage you to read the whole report.

I want to highlight some of the findings and the ramifications for the future.

There are a number of findings that are quite positive including:

  • Approximately 80% believe that treatment is helpful
  • 87% support having their primary care doctor ask them about their mental health and substance use
  • 79% want their primary care doctor to be informed about their behavioral health treatment
  • 84% cite their primary care doctor or mental health/substance use professional as preference for their treatment

Then there are some findings that raise concerns and certainly challenges for us:

  • Only 40% know that their insurance provider is required to offer behavioral health treatment benefits
  • 20% would not seek help regardless of their insurance coverage
  • 40% lack knowledge of who to call and where they can access treatment
  • 24% did not think it would help and/or their were afraid/embarrassed to seek help.

Read more

Trauma Awareness and Trauma Informed Care

Over the past several weeks and most intensively these past few days, the media has been dominated by the domestic violence perpetrated by NFL football player Ray Rice on his then fiancee (now wife). The first video of him dragging her out of the casino elevator as she lay unconscious on the floor was startling, alarming, and reprehensible. The response of the NFL and his employer the Baltimore Ravens was tepid at best. Then just the other day the second video showing the actual act of violence in the elevator has created a loud and profound outrage. The graphic nature of the video has moved the understanding of domestic violence, for many, from the abstract to the concrete. As an advocate for victim’s rights said this morning on the radio, “most people have never seen domestic violence and this video has changed the way people will now think about and discuss it.”

Janay Rice is a victim and has been traumatized. We all hope that she will get the care and support that she will need into the forseeable future. We also hope that Ray Rice gets the treatment he needs to move forward in his life as well.

Without question the events surrounding Ray and Janay Rice are horrific. We must also remember that trauma is experienced in many different ways and can have profound and lasting consequences if left untreated and the person unsupported.

For the past several years at BHRS we have had a number of “champions” that have advocated strongly for raising awareness of how trauma impacts those with behavioral health challenges and for transforming our services into a trauma informed system of care. Extensive training to our staff and providers has been provided and we are on the cutting edge of some exciting new treatment approaches and technology. In particular the Neurosequential Model of Therapy (NMT). Over the past few years we have had a cohort of clinicians trained and now applying these new therapeutic tools. Some are going on to become trainers so we can sustain and expand this work. Our Board of Supervisors has provided Measure A funding to support alternative treatment methods that can be tailored to the specific needs of clients.

As we continue to develop our individual and collective expertise in trauma informed care we must make it known to all who seek our services that they have come to a safe, welcoming and supportive place where we are understanding of how trauma has intersected in their lives and we are here in support of the recovery.