Category Archives: Mental Health Services Act

Empowering Youth to be Change Agents

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HAP-Y Cohort

The Health Ambassador Program for Youth (HAP-Y) is an innovative and community-developed program delivered by StarVista. It is designed for youth ages 16 to 24 who are interested in advocating for communities that have been touched by mental health challenges, raising awareness about mental wellness and increasing access to mental health services. The program is funded by innovation funds through the Mental Health Services Act, which are designed to engage individuals, families and communities to be active change agents regarding wellness, particularly behavioral health. The program is managed by BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), whose primary focus is reaching and engaging vulnerable families and communities in San Mateo.  

The participants of the program, most whom have lived experience with mental health challenges, participate in a 14-week training program, creating a personal Wellness Recovery Action, and learning about common mental health challenges and the principles of suicide prevention.

HAP-Y Cohort

After completing the trainings, HAP-Y graduates are encouraged to conduct community presentations to start conversations and increase knowledge about mental health and community supports available. In the first year of HAP-Y, 20 youth successfully completed the program. They have already reached an audience of over 300 through classroom-based presentations. Preliminary evaluations suggest an increase of over 30 percent in knowledge of where to seek supports and services for mental health issues.

HAP-Y has seen success, not only in reaching an audience, but in providing a sense of community for participants. HAP-Y graduates said the group provided a welcoming and loving environment, where they could have real conversations about topics that they are often unable to have with their peers.

As the program enters its second year, there is an additional focus on continuing to engage past participants and building on their skills and passions. If you are interested in learning more about the program, please contact hapy@star-vista.org.

The next 14-week HAP-Y training will start on May 15th and will be hosted in Half Moon Bay. Please share this information with any youth you think may be interested in participating in this program. 

Co-written by Narges Dillon, Brenda Nunez & Islam Hassanein, StarVista and Nancy Chen, ODE

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

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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

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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

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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

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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 info@sanmateopride.org. For more information about the PRIDE Initiative, check out their website at www.smchealth.org/pride.

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, nandrade@smcgov.org.

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

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

 

ABC’s of Local Advocacy in San Mateo County

On November 15th, the California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO) delivered a workshop on the basics of local advocacy to over 40 behavioral health peer partners, family members and advocates from Heart & Soul, Inc., the California Clubhouse, Voice of Recovery, National Alliance on Mental Illness San Mateo and BHRS.

The workshop covered everything from what it takes to participate in community program planning, mental health boards, system of care meetings and other local input opportunities, to knowing the laws including the Mental Health Services Act regulations, to mock input opportunities.

Participants got to practice writing and giving effective public comment input. Many nervously made their way up to the room podium and shared their 2 minute public comment, often including their own personal lived experience as a means to add a personal touch to their input.
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The most inspiring part of the workshop was getting to wrap up the day with a real action plan.  Groups were formed representing each of the agencies that were present to select a topic and issue they would like to work on as a team.  The groups developed on action plan that included next steps, who was responsible, deadlines and a follow up meeting. You could feel the excitement in the room as each group presented their advocacy issue and next steps.

The workshop was provided in collaboration with the Peer Recovery Collaborative and the BHRS Office of Consumer and Family Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Equity.

Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Steering Commitee Meeting

The MHSA Steering Committee meets twice a year during implementation of the MHSA Three-Year Plan. Our next meeting is scheduled, details below:

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MHSA Steering Committee
Wednesday, December 7, 2016 / 2pm-3:30pm
225 37th Ave. Room 100, San Mateo, CA

Agenda items include:

  • Update on MHSA including outcomes and services provided
  • MHSA Innovations projects and evaluation
  • Workforce Education and Training sustainability planning
  • Planning for the upcoming Mental Health Services Act 3 year plan input process

Following the MHSA Steering Committee, the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery Commission will vote for opening a 30-day Public Comment period for the MHSA Annual Update starting at 3:30pm, same date and location listed above.

The meeting is open to the public. Stipends are available are for clients/consumers participating in this meeting. Language interpretation and childcare are available, please contact us to reserve these services. Light refreshments will be provided.

We are updating the membership process and recruiting new MHSA Steering Committee members.  If you are interested in joining please contact, Doris Estremera at mhsa@smcgov.org or (650) 573-2889.

*MHSA imposes a 1% tax on California personal income in excess of $1 million. The MHSA Steering Committee has the important role of making recommendations to the planning and services funded by MHSA in San Mateo County. For more information on MHSA in San Mateo County, please visit the MHSA website at smchealth.org/bhrs/mhsa.

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