Category Archives: County

5/11 – 11th Annual East Palo Alto Family Awareness Night

Sponsored by the East Palo Alto Behavioral Health Advisory Group and convened by One East Palo Alto, the 11th Annual East Palo Alto Family Awareness Night will be on Thursday, May 17 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. at 1195 Hamilton Court, Menlo Park, CA 94025.

The evening will include a dinner, a discussion on mental health. Community members will have a safe place to engage in and share lived experiences about the different phases of substance use and prevention in order to promote physical, mental, spiritual and cultural wellness.

EPA Family Awareness Night Read more

Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Mental Health Day

mham-199.jpgFor the first time in San Mateo County (SMC) history, Board of Supervisors proclaimed May 10 as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Mental Health Day. San Mateo County has joined the State of California, City and County of San Francisco and City of Austin in proclaiming this significant day. You can download the official proclamation language.

The purpose of AANHPI Mental Health Day is to raise awareness about the challenges and resilience of the AANHPI community, especially around issues of mental health and substance use. AANHPI individuals make up 30.5% of the San Mateo County population. Despite being a large portion of the County, AANHPI communities have the lowest utilization rates of behavioral health services compared to other ethnic groups. These low utilization rates are attributed to various barriers, including cultural stigma, limited behavioral health literacy and lack of multilingual service providers who can speak with clients in their preferred languages. Historically, the SMC AANHPI community has lived in silos with very few events that recognize the collective AANHPI community in San Mateo County. AANHPI Mental Health Day is also meant to break down the silos and build bridges for our AANHPI community to work together towards wellness.

Before officially receiving the proclamation, Nicole Moreland, marriage family therapist trainee, presented an introduction on the behavioral health issues in the AANHPI community. Health Equity Initiative Co-Chairs Sylvia Tang, Stephanie Balon and DannyBoy Naha-Veevalu further introduced the Chinese Health Initiative, Filipino Mental Health Initiative and Pacific Islander Initiative. The presentation concluded with a panel who shared their lived experience facing mental health or substance use issues as members of the AANHPI community. The lived experience speakers were Ning Recio, Ken Jew and Sue Vuna.

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This proclamation was led through a collaboration between Supervisor David Canepa’s Office, the Chinese Health Initiative, the Filipino Mental Health Initiative and the Pacific Islander Initiative. For more information and to get involved, visit

Last but not least, in honor of AANHPI Mental Health Day, we are hosting an Intergenerational Feast. RSVP by May 16. More information at

2018 Tony Hoffman Awards

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The 2018 Tony Hoffman Awards for Mental Health Service were presented on Wednesday, May 2. Presented by the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery Commission, these awards recognize individuals, professionals, businesses, or media representatives who have made an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with mental illness and the San Mateo County community.

We are proud to announce two of our very own were awarded for the Service Provider category: Child Psychiatrist Muir Hooper and Mental Health Counselor Claudia Saggese. Loren Shea from NAMI SMC was awarded in the Client/Volunteer category, and the Language Circle of California, Inc. was awarded in the Business category.

Members of the commission presented each recipient with their award. Randy Trujillos, legislative aide for Supervisor Dave Pine, also presented each honoree with a special commendation from the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

“We’ll continue to do our best and train new blood to serve the families in need in the community,” said a representative for Language Circle of California, Inc.

Dr. Hooper, one of the only Spanish speaking psychiatrists in the BHRS youth system, took the opportunity to voice the need for more bilingual and bicultural service providers in our system, “Our families ultimately deserve to have, on all levels of our system, people that look like them and can relate to them.”

The honorees also shared what they’ve learned from their work with the behavioral health community.

“I’ve come to find that people with mental illness are some of the most compassionate people and have such a great sense of empathy and unique perspective on the world,” Loren said as she accepted her award. “We all have so much to learn from them.”

Claudia Sagesse accepted her award with kind words that ring true for many BHRS staff.

“It’s always been an honor and a privilege to work for San Mateo County with my coworkers,” she said. “Every day doesn’t feel like I’m coming to work. I’m just coming home – to help people. I do what I love every day.”

Read more about the honorees here.

May 8 – Join a Community Conversation on Cannabis

Join Supervisor Warren Slocum on May 8 for a conversation on marijuana, featuring local experts.

Talking to Your Child About Cannabis

Group of three happy teenagers studyingYoung people have an incredible capacity to learn, grow and experience new things. Cannabis use can negatively impact a young person’s development. San Mateo County is hosting free cannabis education workshops for parents. Join local experts to learn how marijuana use can affect your child’s health, safety and educational outcomes. Find out what you can do to prevent underage use. See dates, locations and additional information below. Read more

San Mateo County Proclaims May Mental Health Awareness Month

MHAM proclamation group shot.jpg

Left to right: Jairo Wilches (BHRS Office of Consumer Family Affairs), Suzanne Aubrey (BHRS Office of Consumer Family Affairs), Helene Zimmerman (National Alliance for Mental Illness San Mateo County), Candice Hawley, David Young, John Butler, Sylvia Tang (BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity), Christopher Jump (Heart & Soul, Inc.), Yoshie Hill (Heart & Soul, Inc.).

This morning, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors (BoS) recommitted to raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health and substance use issues in the 2018 Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) Proclamation. Supervisors Dave Pine and Don Horsley made opening remarks highlighting their ongoing commitment to behavioral health in their respective districts and throughout the County.

After receiving the proclamation, our new Behavioral Health & Recovery Services (BHRS) Director David A. Young, PhD, MPH presented an introduction to MHAM and illustrated the importance of raising awareness about mental health and substance use conditions. Dr. Young underscored the prevalence of behavioral health conditions and barriers to receiving help – including stigma – which need to be addressed.

Two Lived Experience Academy graduates, Candice Hawley and John Butler, continued to educate the audience with their personal stories living with a mental health condition. Their stories beautifully illustrated adversity, hope and recovery. Their stories enhance our understanding and empathy for those who live with mental health conditions.

The recording of this Proclamation and other parts of the BoS meeting are located at

To continue the dialogue about mental health and substance use issues, please wear a lime green ribbon or attend a MHAM events in San Mateo County. More information can be found at

Written By Sylvia Tang, Community Health Planner
Office of Diversity and Equity, San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services

Tomorrow, 4/24 – Mental Health Awareness Month Proclamation

Tomorrow at 9 a.m. the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will proclaim May as Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM). Stop by 400 County Center, Redwood City, CA  94063 to watch the proclamation and hear from inspiring speakers.

BHRS is partnering with local organizations throughout the month of May to raise awareness about mental health and substance use issues and the importance of getting help. This year’s MHAM theme is “Bridging Communities to Wellness,” where all San Mateo County residents can connect to resources that support their well-being, regardless of who they are or where they live in the county.

Help us kick off Mental Health Awareness Month with the Art of Wellness Festival and see the MHAM Calendar for other events throughout the month.

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