Category Archives: Mental Health Services Act

AACI Hosts Black History Month Kick Off Event: Empowerment Begins with You

2018 Black History Month Event Final Flier 12 27 (002)-1

On Saturday, January 27th, African American Community Initiative (AACI) will be kicking off Black History month with a fun, informative, and free event celebrating the wellness, resilience, and recovery of the African American Community. 

Stop by the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center to share stories, promote wellness and take one step towards improving the well being of our communities. With a focus on understanding substance use and suicide risk in the African American community, the event will feature a resource fair, informative presentations, a Photovoice panel where young people will share their stories, cultural entertainment, children’s activities and a free soulful lunch.

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How Knowing the Signs Can Help Save a Life


Natalie Andrade with ALGEE the MHFA mascot

Before I started working at the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), I did not have a clue as to what the warning signs of suicide, depression, and anxiety were. It wasn’t until I became a Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) instructor that I realized the importance of knowing the signs of mental health challenges. During my instructor training, taught by two amazing trainers from the National Council, I felt empowered to go back to my community and teach others important skills one can learn from the training. Knowing the signs of suicide can help save a life, yet the most challenging piece of knowing the signs is having the courage to start the conversation about suicide with someone you are concerned about.

In the YMHFA training, participants practice using a 5-step action plan called ALGEE, which stands for:


  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

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December 9 – Filipino Mental Health Initiative Immigration Forum

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The Office of Diversity and Equity’s Filipino Mental Health Initiative(FMHI) is excited to announce they will be hosting an immigration forum, Immigrants: At the Crossroads, for the Filipino Community on Saturday, December 9th at St. Andrew Catholic Church Hall in Daly City from 1:30 – 4pm. 

According to Psychiatric Services, the Philippines is the fourth largest country of origin of immigrants to the United States, and the second-fastest-growing Asian immigrant group in the United States. Yet Filipino Americans are shown to significantly under-utilize existing mental health care services that are culturally, socially, and linguistically incompatible with their needs. Along with stigma, the attachment to traditional practices and healing methods remains a notable barrier to appropriate care for the Filipino American community.

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Mental Health Services Act Prevention and Early Intervention Task Force


Starting this Friday, October 27th, Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) will be convening a Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Task Force to develop strategies to better serve the behavioral health care needs of individuals ages 0-25.

The last PEI Task Force was assembled in 2006 prior to the disbursement of MHSA funding. Since then, learning and best practices have emerged; context and environment have shifted. For three 2-hour meetings, this special time-limited task force is intended to make recommendations for prevention and early intervention priorities and programming for children, youth and transition age youth in San Mateo County as part of the MHSA Three-Year Plan.

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Director of Office of Diversity and Equity honored with Immigrant Recognition Award

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On October 20th, Dr. Jei Africa, Director of the BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity, received the Immigrant Recognition Award for California’s 14th Congressional District from Congresswoman Jackie Speier. During a time of community divisiveness and uncertainty for immigrant families, Congresswoman Speier sought to highlight the contributions of first-generation immigrants in San Mateo County, one of the most diverse counties in California. Read more

San Mateo County Celebrates Pride

Pride post collage

San Mateo County community members celebrate pride with the raising of a flag, live music, energetic speakers and a ribbon cutting ceremony.


This past June was Pride month and San Mateo County had a whole lot to celebrate with our fifth annual Pride event and the historic grand opening of the county’s very first Pride Center.

The Pride Initiative held the annual LGBTQ+ Pride event at San Mateo Central Park on Saturday, June 10th. This year’s theme, “Still We Rise,” inspired by Maya Angelou’s 1978 poem, “Still I Rise” was meant to remind us of the need for solidarity across all communities.

This year, for the first time, the Pride flag was raised along with the American flag in the center of the park at the commencement of Saturday’s celebration. Entertainment included poets, musicians, dancers, martial artists and even an open mic, showcasing talent from the community.  Approximately 700 people came out to celebrate.

When the PRIDE initiative originated in 2008, it was the first county sanctioned LGBTQ+ entity in San Mateo County. In a testament to the advances made by our LBTQ+ community and allies, the county proudly kicked off Pride month with the opening of San Mateo County’s very first Pride Center.

Nearly 500 community members gathered on June 1st to celebrate the grand opening, complete with a ribbon cutting, dynamic speakers and live music.

Located at 1021 S. El Camino and 11th  Ave. in San Mateo, the Pride Center combines direct behavioral health services, such as counseling, peer support, and case management, with community support and services. The center is a safe space and welcomes everyone.

The Pride Center is a collaboration with Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, funded through the Mental Health Services Act. The Center is operated by five partner organizations: StarVista, Peninsula Family Service, Outlet of Adolescent Counseling Services, Daly City Partnership and Pyramid Alternatives.

For more information about the Pride Center call 650-591-0133 or email For more information about the PRIDE Initiative, check out their website at

Lisa Putkey, Jei Africa and Regina Moreno contributed to this article.



MHFA training for Second Harvest Food Bank

Just in time to support the community for Thanksgiving, 15 people at Second Harvest Food Bank graduated as Mental Health First Aiders! The workshop took place on November 18th. Participants discussed topics in recognizing mental health issues, challenging stigma, and how to ask ‘the question’.

Just in case you are interested, it is important to ask someone about suicide if you are concerned: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Be direct. It is always better to feel a little embarrassed after someone says ‘no’ than to live with the regret that you didn’t intervene.

Volunteer for Second Harvest Food Bank here. Contact Natalie Andrade to learn more about Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid training: (650) 372-8548,

Below is a picture of the group– They are a silly bunch!


Second Harvest Food Bank after their Mental Health First Aid training.


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