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 Spring 2017, the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) underwent a Theory of Change process. The intention of the process was to help clarify, shape, and improve the impact of ODE’s efforts. This was done by identifying expected and desired change, and then mapping out how those changes can be achieved.
Why a Theory of Change Process?
ODE Director, Dr. Jei Africa in TOC process
Theory of Change (TOC) is a comprehensive description of an expected and desired change. It is focused on mapping out what a program does and how this will lead to the desired change. It does this through a process of backwards mapping, identifying outcomes, indicators that demonstrate when the outcomes have been achieved and interventions to bring forth the indicators. Through this process, the link between activities and achievements are better understood. Read more
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
Written by Nicole Marshall, Youth Outreach Coordinator
As of January 2018, StarVista, a San Mateo County community based mental health provider, is excited to announce the launching of its fully renovated youth website, OnYourMind.net. This represents a huge success as it represents an expansion of services, and is also a win for the teen volunteers who run the site and have advocated for the changes. The site focuses on mental health and suicide prevention education, offering teen blogs and instant peer to peer chat. Teens are encouraged to seek direct support on a wide range of topics including relationships, stress, bullying, depression, identity, and health. New to the site are several redesigned interactive features: blogs allow visitors of the site to ask questions and leave comments, and new chat software allows seamless connection to fully trained teen counselors Monday through Thursday from 4:30PM to 9:30PM. The best part? OnYourMind.net and its chat services are now completely mobile accessible. Read more
Written by Natalie Andrade, Mental Health First Aid
Philippine Consulate’s Mental Health First Aid Training on January 27th.
The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) was invited to the Philippine Consulate on Saturday, January 27 to provide a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to consulate staff. The Philippine Consulate provides services to Filipino Nationals in the San Francisco Bay Area. The day was filled with rich conversation about the struggles of feeling homesick and how this can affect one’s mental health, which is a taboo and stigmatized topic in the Filipino community. A participant stated that she was able to feel a connection to the information provided due to the cultural piece both instructors integrated in the course.
The word “homesick” is defined as the experience or longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it. When people leave their home countries, the sense of loss and homesickness is commonly felt. Homesickness is the word used by Philippine Consul General, Hon. Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. in his opening speech during the training to staff to describe the challenges they, as a community, often face when living away from home.
AACI’s Black History Month kick off event included informational keynote speakers, activities for children, resources, and powerful storytellers. Of the powerferul storytellers were three individuals who created Photovoice projects about Substance Abuse and Suicide.
In collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Equity, Service Connect, and the African American Community Initiative, this group of storytellers came together to share the ways that they have been affected by the issues of substance abuse and suicicdal thoughts. At the Black History Month kick off event, the storytellers shared their photovoices and sat on a panel to answer questions and discuss the way the topics of their photovoices interact with the African American community.
Some shared the way that substance abuse has affected their relationships, growth, and responsibilites. Others shared that they wish their families and community members would be more open about suicide and other mental health issues so that they would feel more supported to cope with those stigmatized issues.
To view last year’s Black Lives Matter photovoices, click here.
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.