For 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.
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 smchealth.org/hei.
Last but not least, in honor of AANHPI Mental Health Day, we are hosting an Intergenerational Feast. RSVP by May 16. More information at smchealth.org/event/intergenerational-feast.
The topic of immigration is controversial and complex. However regardless of one’s personal views on the issue, it is undeniable that the uncertainty and lack of information in our communities is ultimately detrimental to the communities’ health. An article by the Washington Post describes how the stress experienced by the threat of deportation can have devastating effects on health, beyond those immediately affected.
“Over time, such chronic stress, unaddressed, will make them far more vulnerable to heart disease, asthma, diabetes and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
The University of Michigan conducted a study on the impact of the 2008 federal immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, the largest in U.S. history. The study found an increase of Hispanic babies born with low birth weight, which can cause long term health risks, a 24% increase in comparison to the year before.
The study also found that the risk for low birth weight was equally high for Latinas with protected legal status, “…in spite of their apparent safety, their bodies were reacting as if they, too, could soon be deported.” This can result in an “epigenetic” effect that modifies the way genes are expressed, allowing for the transmission of “vulnerabilities to stress from one generation to the next.”
While the debate over immigration continues, it is important to take a moment to recognize that what affects one group actually affects us all. We have a responsibility to care for the health of all community members, but equally important, to stay informed and aid those who are vulnerable.
For the first time, in celebration of San Mateo County’s (SMC) Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities, Chinese Health Initiative (CHI), Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FMHI), and Pacific Islander Initiative (PII) collaborate to host a free intergenerational feast for the community filled with delicious free food, inspirational speakers, raffles, and wellness practice performances.
Historically SMC’s AANHPI communities have had few events to recognize and celebrate one another. The goal of this event is to bridge the SMC AANHPI communities across ethnicities/ generations to be empowered together towards wellness. The event aims to strengthen relationships and break the AANHPI communities from their silos.
Please RSVP for the event by May 16th by emailing Kristie Lui at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling her at (650) 573- 5037.
We hope to see you all there!
Written by Kristie Lui, CHI Member
On Saturday, April 21st, the Filipino Mental Health Initiative(FMHI) and Pacific Islander Initiative(PII) welcome all to attend this upcoming Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
This training is the standard MHFA training, but also incorporates Asian- Pacific Islander (API) culturally-responsive material: giving participants an opportunity to learn about how to help friends and family members, who may be experiencing a mental health condition or crisis, and get certified.
This event is of huge importance for San Mateo County’s API community for a few reasons. SMC’s API community continues to have a lot of stigma around mental health; there remains a division between SMC’s API community; and there is not much available data and resources around mental health for the community.
The goals of this event are to:
- Decrease stigma around mental health in the API community
- Build solidarity among APIs
- Bring visibility to API communities to gain more data and resources around mental health Read more
On Saturday January 27th, BHRS’ African American Community Initiative (AACI) hosted their 2018 Black History Month event and health fair. The theme was Wellness, Resilience and Recovery, with the purpose of empowering the community to take charge of their wellness and recovery using the resilience inside us all, and to celebrate Black History Month. This year’s event was held in San Mateo at the Martin Luther King Junior Community Center. The event was enjoyed by over 70 people consisting of community members/partners, Health System staff, and consumers. Over thirty plus community agencies provided information and materials on their services.
The co-chairs of AACI, Tennille Tucker and Talisha Racy co the hosted the event with Ms. Tucker leading the singing of the National Black Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Opening remarks were provided by Carole Groom of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, David Young, the San Mateo County Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and Rick Bonilla, the Mayor of the City of San Mateo. Invocation was provided by Elder Alvin Swindell, the Pastor of Macedonia Church of God and Christ.
Annette photographed second from the right on Spirit Day 10/19/17
As a queer person living in San Mateo County, the monthly Pride Initiative meetings are a haven for me to feel connected to local LGBTQ+ community members. Nothing beats being around a table of beautifully unique and bold community members to talk about the numerous efforts we’re working on to strengthen the sense of LGBTQ+ community in San Mateo County.
PRIDE Initiative, 2011
Founded in 2007, the Pride Initiative is a health equity initiative that was created by the Office of Diversity and Equity in recognition that LGBTQ+ folks are often met with culturally inappropriate care and a lack of knowledge by service providers in health settings. Since 2007, the Pride Initiative has met on a monthly basis to organize community-based events, create trainings for service providers and advocate as a community for more LGBTQ+ services within county and community settings.
One such example is sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data collection that will be rolled out this year across BHRS as well as the whole health system; collecting this data will help reduce health disparities experienced by LGBTQ+ folks by normalizing conversations about these aspects of our identities that have a direct impact on our health. Pride Initiative members participated in not only advocating for this, they also contributed to the curriculum that was created to train BHRS staff on how to appropriately serve LGBTQ+ clients and ask SOGI questions with cultural humility.
In 2011, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS), Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) created their own “Storytelling Program” that emphasizes the use of personal stories as a means to draw communal attention to mental health and wellness. Read more