Category Archives: Crisis Response

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.

Police Mental Health Training Pays Off

Great to see the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) being provided to officers in San Mateo County on how to respond to individuals needing mental health assistance is making a difference. In a recent stand off with an individual who was distraught and threatened to harm himself and others, the San Mateo Police worked together with the County’s SMART team (San Mateo County Mental Health Assessment and Referral Team) to prevent the situation from ending in a tragedy.  Kudos to the San Mateo Police for the sensitivity shown in handling a situation that could have easily gone sideways. Read the full story here.

Crisis Collaboration Work Moving Forward

The Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Crisis Collaboration Workgroup met for the third time this past week and a diverse group of service providers within San Mateo County were in attendance. Representatives from:  BHRS, Law Enforcement, School Districts, San Mateo Medical Center, Mills Hospital, V.A., NAMI, Probation, Emergency Medical Services, Mid-Pen Housing, crisis line providers, crisis response non-profits and several others came together with the goal to:  Read more

Crisis System Collaboration-A Work in Progress

About a year ago, the State issued a request for proposals to counties designed to improve local capacity to respond to people in crisis that in large part is due to their mental illness. One of the requirements of the proposal was to catalogue existing crisis response efforts within the county. Going through that exercise was illuminating. While here in San Mateo County we do have considerable resources devoted to preventing crises and responding to them, it was clear we have not organized the resources within a collaborative/partnering framework that would enhance leveraging our resources, identifying and filling gaps, and building future capacity.

In July, BHRS convened a meeting with representatives from law enforcement, hospitals, emergency medical services, NAMI, office of emergency services, education, community based organizations, probation, and the county managers office. We wanted to bring this group together to see if there was agreement in working toward building a collaborative that would focus on improving prevention of and responding to crises. The participants strongly affirmed such an interest and they were willing to devote their time to make this work.

A survey was developed to find out from the 70 participants how we they would rate our current effectiveness in the following areas: crisis prevention; client and family supports; crisis response; post response; and data/evaluation. Here are some of the findings:

  • Prevention: approximately 57% felt we have effective services, while 14% disagreed and 27% were neutral
  •  Client and Family Supports: 45% agreed, 15% disagreed and 27% neutral
  •  Crisis Response: 54% agreed, 11% disagreed and 32% neutral
  •  Post Response: 26% agreed, 11% disagreed and 32% neutral
  •  Data and Evaluation: 0% agreed, 31% disagreed and 69% neutral

For each of the items there was a large percentage of neutral responses which at this point we are interpreting that the respondents did not have enough information and/or they felt there is room for improvement (see a summary of the Crisis Service Collaboration survey results). The group reconvened in September to review the results of the survey and to start identifying potential areas to focus on including but not limited to the following: linking people to services prior to a crisis, a place for people to go voluntarily, mobile crisis, enhanced language capacity, follow up after a Psychiatric Emergency Service or hospitalization stay, information sharing across agencies, and develop an evaluation tool to determine how well we are doing.

We are excited about the strong interest and enthusiasm for developing a strong and effective collaboration. We will be meeting again in January to continue our work.

If you are interested in participating please contact Mary Taylor-Fullerton at

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.


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