Category Archives: Office of Diversity & Equity

10/11 – National Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health & Understanding

Each year in the beginning of October the nation celebrates the National Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health and Understanding. This day is designed to bring together mental health and substance abuse networks and faith leaders together so that they may recognize the importance of behavioral health issues in our community.

On Tuesday, Oct 11, BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity‘s Spirituality Initiative, Latino Collaborative and numerous faith leaders will virtually host our county’s 5th National Interfaith Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health and Understanding.

Register at https://smcgov.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAucu2grzouE9NWb7iKsoJKaQk4pG7Y-6GF

We invite consumers, faith base community, providers, and community to attend this event.

For more info contact Pam Ward Pious at wpam3238@gmail.com or Isaac Frederick at ifrederick@smcgov.org

2022 September Suicide Prevention Month

Today is the first day of September Suicide Prevention Month!

For 2022, San Mateo County, StarVista and partners are promoting the statewide theme of “Take Action for Suicide Prevention: Thriving at all Ages.”  To support Thriving At All Ages, Californians are encouraged to take action for suicide prevention by recognizing the importance of strengthening resiliency, protective factors, and physical and emotional wellness throughout the lifespan and at difference life stages. To learn more about the statewide theme, please visit SuicideisPreventable.org

Each year, San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services’ Office of Diversity & Equity, StarVista, and Suicide Prevention Committee (SPC) promote free events throughout the month of September to promote Suicide Prevention Month. All events are free and open to the public. This year events will be in-person and/or virtual.  For full list of events and other ways to support suicide prevention throughout the month, visit SMCHealth.org/Suicide-Prevention-Month

Please show your support at your next virtual meeting with one of our 2022 Suicide Prevention Month virtual backgrounds (Download them at this webpage).  

Parent Project Fall 2022 Schedule

The Parent Project® is continuing this coming Fall with four virtual classes. Please share with your networks and communities.

The Parent Project® is a free, 14-week course that is offered in English and Spanish to anyone who cares for a child or adolescent. The classes meet for three hours each week. Parents learn parenting skills and get information about resources and other support available in their communities. Parents/caregivers learn and practice skills such as:

  • appropriate ways to discipline
  • preventing or stopping alcohol, drug and tobacco use
  • improving communication skills
  • improving grades and school attendance

Spanish All Class Flyer
English All Class Flyer

For more information, visit SMCHealth.org/ParentProject.

*NEW* BHRS’ Office of Diversity Job Opportunities Available!

San Mateo County Health, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS), Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) is hiring for various job opportunities!  ODE advances health equity in behavioral health outcomes of marginalized communities throughout San Mateo County. There are opportunities to work in each of the four ODE strategic pathways; 1) Workforce Transformation, 2) Community Engagement, 3) Strategic Partnerships and 3) Policies & System Change. 

Applicants should have a passion for programs that advance diversity, inclusion and equity in behavioral health outcomes. To view the various job opportunities and instructions on applying, visit https://www.smchealth.org/pod/job-internship-opportunities. Those with lived experience as a person in recovery from mental health and/or substance use conditions or as a family member of someone who has behavioral health conditions and/or with experience as a member of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and/or marginalized communities are strongly encouraged to apply.

For more information about BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity, please visit here.

BHRS’ ODE Internship Program – Deadline 5/13

The BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) advances health equity in behavioral health outcomes of marginalized communities throughout San Mateo County. ODE is dedicated to addressing health inequities and stigma in the areas of mental health and substance use and supporting wellness and recovery in San Mateo County. ODE works to achieve these goals by promoting cultural humility and competence, which are rooted in principles of
social justice. To learn more about BHRS ODE’s work, visit www.smchealth.org/bhrs/ODE.

More information about the internship in the application below.

Happy AAPI Heritage Month: Updates from the Pacific Islander Initiative

PII Co-Chair, Brittany Afu

This year, BHRS ODE’s Health Equity Initiative, Pacific Islander Initiative (PII) welcomes a returning co-chair, Brittany Afu, who is currently working with long-time partner, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. Luci Latu and Brittany have been focusing on rebuilding past partnerships and cultivating new ones to strengthen PII’s membership base.

Some of the initiative’s focus this year has been on COVID outreach – raising awareness around COVID testing, vaccines and linking families to COVID relief programs and services. Other focuses include outreaching for partner events and community classes, sharing information about services and completing community presentations to raise awareness on critical issues affecting the PII community.

Recently, the PII co-chairs presented to a class at UC Berkeley discussing Pacific Islander health disparities and how the initiative and other partnering agencies are developing strategies to address community needs. It is an ongoing effort, and we hope to make community impacts by filling future Parent Project courses, hosting Mental Health First Aid trainings and getting more families connected to needed care.

Blog written by Brittany Afu
Co-Chair of Pacific Islander Initiative of San Mateo County, 


To learn more about Pacific Islander Initiative and other health equity initiatives, visit SMCHealth.org/HEI.

The Health Equity Initiatives are funded through BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity. For more information click here.

To learn more about Pacific Islander Initiative, visit smchealth.org/pacific-islander-initiative.

2022 May Mental Health Month #SMCTakeAction4MH

Hello, 

As many of you know, May is Mental Health Month or, as we also like to call it, the lime greenest time of the year! This year’s theme, adopted from the statewide campaign, is #SMCTakeAction4MH. The theme encourages everyone to take actionable steps to address mental health and substance use matters. Over the past two years, the pandemic has been especially challenging for many of us. Your mental health is more important than ever. Throughout the month, learn ways you can take action to improve your communities’ mental wellness!

Each year we partner with local agencies and community members to offer free events throughout San Mateo County. This year, we are offering both in-person and virtual events!

To find our full calendar of events, learn ways to get involved, and find behavioral health resources. Visit our website here: SMCMentalHealthMonth.org.

Please promote Mental Health Month with your communities and networks by sharing our promo flyer and utilizing our virtual backgrounds.

In community, 

Kristie & Sylvia
Co-Chairs, May Mental Health Month Planning Committee
Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity

Sylvia Tang | She/Her/她
stang@smcgov.org | 650-578-7165

Kristie Lui | She/Her/她
kflui@smcgov.org

Kwentuhan: Y(Our) Story Matters: You heal. I heal. We heal. 

Panel from Equity Through Art Series: Kwentuhan on 3/31/22

Kwentuhan in Tagalog,  translates to “storytelling.” By exploring our personal and collective narratives we can find ways to deepen our connection to Self, & others, including our ancestors (seen and unseen). Research has shown that the practice of storytelling, whether you are sharing or witnessing, can offer a pathway to healing. The Equity Through Art Series webinar: “Filipinx Kwentuhan” on March 31st embodied that relational experience for me, as I spoke my truth as a panelist, as well as witnessing the soulfully moving & resilient stories shared by my fellow kapatids (siblings) on the panel. As a 2nd generation Pinay-American, this cultural tradition of kwentuhan has served as a wisdom transfer, and ancestral healing tool in my family and community.  

This healing arts practice is at the heart of the newly founded Kapwa Kultural Center/Kafé in Daly City (a state-funded project by the Mental Health Services Act Innovation Funding) that, in collaboration with Daly City Partnership & Daly City Youth Health Center, the Filipino Mental Health Initiative of San Mateo County has developed to honor our Filipina/o/x lineage and culture through preserving our individual and collective narratives. Expected to officially launch late 2022 to mid-2023, the center/café will offer a welcoming, culturally affirming, healing space to access an array of mental health & wellness services and support—as well as a home for kwentuhan: a place to talk story, grab a Filipino-inspired drink, and merienda (afternoon snacks). Please stay tuned for more updates on our progress. If you are interested in getting involved and/or learning more about this historical North San Mateo County landmark development, please feel free to contact us at fmhismc@gmail.com or visit us at fmhi-smc.org. 

Blog written by Stephanie Balon, MA, AMFT 
Co-Chair of Filipino Mental Health Initiative of San Mateo County, 
Co-Founder/Senior Director of Kapwa Kultural Center/Kafe in Daly City 


Missed the event? You can find the full recording here.

To learn more about Filipino Mental Health Initiative and other health equity initiatives, visit SMCHealth.org/HEI.

The Health Equity Initiatives are funded through BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity. For more information click here.

AACI Black History Month Event | Thank you and Highlights

The African American Community Initiative (AACI) proudly hosted their annual Black History Month Program on Saturday, February 26, 2022. The audience was greeted with a musical interlude by The Glide Ensemble singing “Say Their Names” chanting “Black lives matter- we matter.” This poignant song was followed by Dana Johnson (they/them), Pride Initiative Co-Chair, honoring our ancestors by reciting the Sankofa African Ancestral acknowledgement. Lee Harrison (he/him), AACI Co-Chair, gave an introduction to the national theme for Black History Month: Black Health and Wellness.

Doctoral student from Palo Alto University and AACI intern, Chika Ofodu (she/they) gave a well received presentation on Healing Centered Engagement (HEC), a framework for engaging with youth of color that embraces a holistic and strength- based approach to trauma that involves culture, spirituality, civic action, and collective healing.

Dr. Kim Rhoads (she/her) told us that the highest rate of COVID infection and deaths are still occurring in Black and Latino communities. Social determinants drive these disparities that are common among all other diseases. Although the total numbers of people with COVID has declined, Dr Rhoads emphasised that Black and Brown communites need to continue to follow precautionary guidelines to reduce our high infection rates:

  • Masking matters: It is most important to block the aerosol spread from the mouth and nose.
  • Protect yourself by getting vaccinated despite community conspiracy theories to the contrary.
  • Omicron is a variant of COVID, there will likely be new variants.

We must act accordingly to protect ourselves from this airborne disease.

Lastly, a cultural cooking demonstration of a Healthy Gumbo recipe was offered by Chef Opal of Daly City. Through-out the event there were presentation polls and raffles. A Black History Trivia Game and raffle ended the day on a high note. All event raffles were funded by the SMC BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity.

Written by Pamela Ward (she/her), African American Community Initiative Co-Chair

March 31: Filipinx Kwentuhan: Equity through Art Webinar

When: March 31st 6pm-7pm

Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEsce2hrD4vGNcPA4inP9HQmIqwFfTt-0_F

Description: Every culture has a storytelling tradition. In the Filipinx diaspora, kwentuhan (storytelling) is a way of remembering and honoring ancestors, preserving histories, and reconnecting with kapwa. It has also provided a path to resisting invisibility. From the time the first Filipinos landed in California in 1587 to the time they began settling in San Mateo County in the 1920s, storytelling has always been part of the fabric of the community’s lived experience. Equity Through Art Series’ “Filipinx Kwentuhan” will feature unique stories of resilience, healing and bayanihan in the Filipinx community in San Mateo County. The webinar panel will be moderated by Aileen Cassinetto, San Mateo County Poet Laureate, and feature Matthew Abaya, Filmmaker; Stephanie Balon, Co-Chair of the SMC BHRS Filipino Mental Health Initiative; Joanne Boston, events producer with a focus on community art and culture; Carly Burton, Jefferson High school Student and filmmaker; and Rosie Tejada, President of the Jefferson Union High School District Board of Trustees.

As we, in San Mateo County, reckon with racial inequities, it’s critical to understand the history that got us to where we are today. The Equity through Art Series, a partnership between the County Library, BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity, and the Chief Equity Officer at the County of San Mateo, takes us on a journey to understand the experiences of Black, Indigenous, Communities of Color, through their voices and stories. For the full series, visit: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuc5tf7EL6P7G4UatPRBuPqQ0LmP1PHNa. Please join us for Filipinx Kwentuhan Webinar on March 31st from 6-7pm.

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