Category Archives: Cultural Humility

Theatre of the Oppressed: Workshop Brings Diverse Staff Together to Explore Oppression in Everyday Lives

During Mental Health Awareness Month, the Community Health Promotion Unit hosted a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop to build awareness – through an embodied, experiential and participatory process – around root causes of health disparities. Participants explored the interwoven nature of trauma and oppression, exposing systems of oppression that perpetuate inequities along racial, ethnic, gender and socio-economic lines. Through story and theatre, participants explored their own awareness of power, privilege and oppression that exists around them as well as counter-oppressive solutions to implement in prevention and community work.

Native and Indigenous Peoples Initiative (NIPI) Co-Chair, Gloria Gutierrez, participated in the workshop describing it as a space for participants

“To express [themselves] void of judgement. As an individual that has been dedicated to learn about other cultures and communities I found [it] incredibly valuable. I would definitely recommend this training to my colleagues and community members as is teaches us a different approach to handle difficult issues.”

Another participant, Sylvia Tang, Co-Chair for the Chinese Health Initiative reflected,

“The training inspired me to think more deeply about the oppressive and liberating features of our Chinese culture that I have experienced. Hierarchy/compliance can be oppressive on the one hand but the fire for family unity/well-being can be liberating on the other hand. While many assume Chinese may quiet and compliant, there are many examples where Chinese-Americans have resisted and fought for the rights of our family’s well-being, including fighting for basic educational and legal rights during the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act.”

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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

Office of Diversity and Equity Job and Internship Anouncements

ODE Logo_Hi Res_Transparent.pngThe Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) is excited to announce two new job and internship opportunities. ODE advances health equity in behavioral health outcomes of marginalized communities throughout San Mateo County. ODE works to empower communities; influence policy and system changes; develop strategic and meaningful partnerships; and promote workforce development and transformation within BHRS. 

1) ODE is seeking Community Health Planners.

There are currently two vacancies 1) a permanent Community Health Planner position that will support Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) implementation and technical assistance across BHRS; and 2) a limited-term position, through June 30, 2021, that will support the development and implementation of a comprehensive, outcome-based evaluation, data collection and reporting infrastructure for MHSA funded programs.

Application available here

2) ODE is seeking Cultural Stipend Internship Program (CSIP) interns.

The 2018-19 Cultural Stipend Internship Program (CSIP) Awardees complete and present their cultural humility related projects to clinic sites, Health Equity Initiatives (HEI), and community groups. CSIP awardees spend the academic year participating in one of nine HEIs and coordinating a year-long project, in addition to their regular duties as clinical interns. 

CSIP provides a stipend of $5,000 awarded annually to up to 20 interns. Awardees are selected based on their expressed interest in and commitment to cultural awareness and social justice in both community and clinical settings; personal identification with marginalized communities; and/ or lived experience with behavioral health conditions. Priority is given to bilingual and/ or bi-cultural applicants whose cultural background and experience is similar to underserved communities in San Mateo County. Once selected, awardees are then matched with an HEI and tasked with conducting a project that helps BHRS becomes more culturally sensitive on a systemic level, and more accessible to marginalized communities. 

Application available here. 

To learn more about the Office of Diversity and Equity, visit our website at http://www.smchealth.org/bhrs/ode

For other job and internship opportunities with ODE visit https://www.smchealth.org/pod/job-internship-opportunities

Intergenerational Feast Bridges AANHPI Communities

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities have traditionally faced increased barriers to behavioral health care, including cultural stigma and limited access to culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

This past Sunday, an intergenerational feast bridged AANHPI communities across ethnicities and generations, empowering them towards wellness. The Chinese Health Initiative, Filipino Mental Health Initiative and Pacific Islander Initiative collaborated to plan the event. San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa co-sponsored the feast.

The evening featured speakers who highlighted the importance of mental wellness, cultural performances and of course, delicious food.

 

History Meets the Present: The Continued Resilience of East Palo Alto

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History has a way of centering us in our truth. It opens windows and doors into a deeper part of us and others. We begin to understand how things came to be, why your now citizen father grits his teeth every time he crosses a border, why there was a golf course in your neighborhood gated by a 20 foot fence that you never questioned, and even why you are determined to remain grateful no matter what life hands you.

It is one thing to visit a community, shop at their local grocery store, question what others have told you of this place and admire the warmth this community radiates. However, it is an entirely different experience to spend weeks gathering historical information about a community and then make eye contact. The closest comparison I can think of is accidentally opening East Palo Alto’s (EPA) diary, where they stored hopes, where they drew their future, and all the tear stained pages where they wrote about their trauma. There I sat flipping pages that looked like news articles, academic papers, and magazine spotlights that detailed the most intimate and violent experiences that this community had endured.

Through my research I learned about the redlining of EPA, and how this practice which backs mortgage lending to certain White neighborhoods and excludes others that house minorities, shaped what EPA would become. What this practice meant for residents was that they could not secure access to mortgages or capital so their property values were capped, and their access to gaining generational wealth was stifled. It also hardened racial divides, and left African American folk with limited options for where they could live.

The research revealed many personal stories of the first African Americans moving to the county and their neighbors protesting their arrival outside their homes and creating an environment of hostility so toxic that there was no choice but to move.

Additionally, there were also stories of folks moving to EPA and finding community, raising their children among family and developing strong social and community bonds.

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Are Implicit Bias Trainings Enough to Actually Stop Incidents Like Philadelphia Starbucks?

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On 4/12, two black men were sitting at a table at Starbucks without making a purchase and were arrested when declining a store manager’s demand to leave.

Since then, Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson has announced changes to its policy including mandatory implicit bias tests, shutting down all US Starbucks stores on May 29th. This opens larger conversations about what is implicit bias, how it can be harmful, and whether Starbucks’ implicit bias test can actually make a difference.

Implicit bias refers to the automatic associations people have in their minds about a group of people, including stereotypes. They are formed subconsciously and unintentionally, but result in the prejudiced behaviors, attitudes, and actions for or against a person or group of people.

According to CNN, studies have shown that implicit bias contributes to “shooter bias”, the tendency for the police to shoot unarmed black suspects more often than white ones

Starbucks’ Implicit Bias training intends to combat the issue of implicit bias. However according to Cornell professor, Michelle Duguid’s research, sometimes implicit bias trainings have a negative effect on its audience; by explaining to people that stereotyping is common, people are sometimes actually more likely to express those biases.

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Arab American Heritage Month

April marks National Arab American Heritage Month. Included in the California Senate Resolution are the acknowledgements that Arab Americans have been making valuable contributions to every aspect of American Society, set fine examples of model citizens, bring resilient family values, strong work ethic, dedication to education, and more. Read about the resolution here.

Here at the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), we are working to also recognize and support the Arab and Arab American communities.

In collaboration with ODE, BHRS, and the Arab Workgroup, students in the Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA) at Jefferson High School shared their stories. The students shared their stories in response to the framing question, “What does mental wellness look like in you community?”.

The students shared that they feel “othered”, that they are challenged with balancing expectations from two cultures, and that they are hopeful with their faith in Allah.

Sharing these stories is important for many reasons, including building visibility and recognizing the lived experiences of a community who’s stories are marginalized. As you read these stories, think about how you show up for our Arab and Arab American colleagues and consumers.

Similarly related, the U.S. government classified people of Middle Eastern descent as “white” since 1970. This has made it challenging to get an accurate count of Arab Americans in the U.S. and to determine how members of this population are succeeding financially, academically, etc. ODE is challenging this in our own health system by working with the Arab Work Group to add an option to the race/ethnicity demographic form that distinguishing Arab and Arab Americans from Middle Easterns. With this, we will be able to keep better track of the services we provide to ensure that we provide equitable care to all communities!

In the News: African American Community Initiative

One of our very own, Briana Evans, Senior Community Health Planner with the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), was recently featured on Pen Voice. Check out the video below for Briana’s take on the innovative work of the African American Community Initiative and the importance of all of our Health Equity Initiatives.

The Office of Diversity and Equity Offers New Community Resources!

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) created a We Welcome All poster and Cultural Humility Group Agreements poster for the community to practice cultural humility, advance equity, and build inclusion in their home space, business space, work space, community space, etc. 

We Welcome All Poster

The We Welcome All Poster was designed to show the Office of Diversity and Equity’s solidarity with San Mateo County’s diverse community. Regardless of race, ethnicity, citizen status, sexual orientation and gender identity, ODE celebrates and values diversity. We invite everyone to celebrate and value diversity with us. 

The varying languages on the bottom half of the poster represent San Mateo County’s 5 threshold languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, and Tagalog, as well as the county’s 5 emerging languages: Arabic, Burmese, Portuguese, Samoan, and Tongan. 

People with the We Welcome All poster are encouraged to post them near the front entrance of their buildings where visitors and passer-bys are able to see them.

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Maligayang bagong Taon (Happy New Years in Tagalog) from the Filipino Mental Health Initiative!

Written by: Nancy Chen, member of FMHI

For many of us, preparing for a New Year is a time of reflection on the past year’s events, accomplishments and challenges.  It is also a time of introspection about the hopes for the upcoming year.  The Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FMHI) would like to express much gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to reach the Filipino community as well as surrounding communities.

FMHI is one of 9 mental health initiatives funded from the Mental Health Services Act in 2010 through  Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity. FMHI seeks to improve the well-being of Filipinos in San Mateo County by reducing stigma associated with mental health issues, increasing access to services, empowering the community to advocate for their mental health, and supporting wellness and recovery.  FMHI collaborates with county staff, community partners, consumers/family members, and community stakeholders to ensure that culturally appropriate services are available to Filipino residents.

The Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FMHI) has received support from various collaborations in 2017, wrapping the year up with three successful community events: 1) Philz Coffee Suicide Prevention Outreach event, 2) Philz Coffee Mental Health Poetry Slam, and 3)Immigrant Rights and Health Forum.  These events were made possible due to the support and collaboration with Supervisor David Canepa’s office, Philz Coffee, and St. Andrew Catholic Church’s Social Justice Ministry. 

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