Category Archives: Crisis Response

In the News: Emergency Preparedness and Transgender Day of Remembrance

Emergency Preparedness

BHRS Mental Health Program Specialist, Betty Ortiz-Gallardo, and Health System Emergency Preparedness Manager, Shruti Dhapodkar, recently sat down with Pen Voice to discuss San Mateo County’s response to the North Bay Wildfires and the county’s own emergency preparedness program. Check out the video above for more.


Remembrance and Resilience in the Transgender Community

SMDJ TDOR article

On July 16, The San Mateo County Pride Center  hosted a Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil to honor the 25 people whose lives were taken by anti-transgender violence, in this year alone. Statistics show that transgender people also face higher rates of suicidal ideation, homelessness, substance abuse, isolation, discrimination, job insecurity and violence.

“We’re not just mourning the lives that have been lost, but really coming together and saying, ‘we are a resilient community,'” said ODE director, Jei Africa. Check out this article in The San Mateo Daily Journal for more.


Resources for Those Impacted by Wildfires

Our hearts go out to those affected by the massive wildfires in Sonoma, Napa and Yuba Counties.

A traumatic event such as this is unexpected and often brings out strong emotions. People can call the Disaster Distress Helpline’s toll-free number (1-800-985-5990) and receive immediate counseling. This free, confidential, and multilingual crisis support service is also available via SMS (text TalkWithUs to 66746) to anyone experiencing psychological distress as a result of this event. People who call and text are connected to trained and caring professionals from crisis counseling centers in the network. The Helpline staff provides confidential counseling, referrals, and other needed support services. Read more

The African American Community Initiative Acknowledges Lives Lost in Charleston, SC

The African American Community Initiative would like to acknowledge the lives that were taken as a result of one of the worse acts of violence in a place of worship in more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Washington Post, 6/2015). It is always very difficult to understand violent crimes such as these. There are no answers that can adequately explain why or how these things happen. In times like these we must remember that only love can overcome hate. As a community we can take a moment to recognize the impact an event like this has had on our community and band together in strength, moving forward in order to bring a better tomorrow.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any discomfort or unmovable sadness or if you need immediate assistance you can call the San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services ACCESS call center at 1-800-686-0101 or visit our website at or

For more information about the African American Community Initiative, check out our website at

Crisis Collaboration Continues

The next BHRS Crisis Collaboration meeting will be held on Thursday, April 23rd from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Sobrato Center; 330 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City.  This continues to be a ripe forum for diverse agencies throughout the county to come together and work to improve system-wide crisis collaboration.

Based on feedback from the current work groups and a desire to further connect as a system, we are hosting an informative panel discussion on 5150’s.  Panel participants will share unique experiences from very different viewpoints: as a client/consumer, a family member, police officer, and psychiatric emergency services staff.  The goal is to educate one another on what works well, raise awareness about needs/challenges faced by the multiple parties involved and learn how we can better support one another in a 5150.

Also – for those of you anxiously awaiting for the MH 911 Brochures & Wallet Cards in Spanish they are in development!  We will post updates here as soon as they are available, likely in May 2015.

Mental Health Emergency Materials for the Community Now Available

MH911Materials developed by Behavioral Health and Recovery Services educating San Mateo County residents on what to do in a Mental Health Emergency are now available.  Information includes what to do and say before and during the 9-1-1 call and what to expect when the police arrives.  Visit the Mental Health Emergency webpage to view and print copies of the brochure and wallet card. If you work with the community and would like to order a supply of printed materials for distribution, you may submit a request on the webpage.

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