As we kick off the Holiday Season, I am reminded of the importance of community and how I was recently surrounded by the Pacific Islander community. As a member of the BHRS Office of Diversity & EquityPacific Islander Initiative, I did my first 5K at Samoan Solutions 12th Annual Turkey Trot for Charity at the Brisbane Marina in South San Francisco. Despite the bone chilling morning air, many made their health a priority by running and walking the 5K event.
This year’s beneficiary was Soup 4 the Soul which is a family led effort to provide for the needs of San Francisco’s homeless community. 2022 is Soup 4 the Soul’s 8th year of offering hot soup and necessities for those less fortunate during the Thanksgiving holiday. Samoan Solutions is giving a portion of this year’s proceeds to support this local effort of paying it forward.
To learn more about our Health Equity Initiative, visit here. To learn more about our Pacific Islander Initiative, visit here.
Written by Twila Dependahl (she/her), BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity
The holiday season is full of many colors, from cheerful reds and golds, to more calming tones, and somber hues. It is the multitude of colors that creates the special beauty of the season. This time of the year is an opportunity to celebrate and to acknowledge that not everyone feels festive. We can demonstrate the spirit of the season with kindness, generosity, and love by checking in with ourselves and others.
It’s OK to not be happy. The holiday season is full of sights and sounds that can trigger symptoms of trauma, feelings of sadness, guilt, and shame because they are reminders of loss or vital things we do not have. When it seems like everyone else is swimming in joyful abundance, the contrast with how we are feeling can sharpen the pain. Even if we are fortunate enough to live in a comfortable home and be surrounded by helpful family, the increased presence of more intense socializing can cause anxiety.
If you are feeling sadness or anger, ask yourself “what helps and what hurts”? Give a name to the things that trigger hard feelings and some thought to what makes you feel better. Simple things that can be found in everyday life are best, like taking a walk or ride outside, reading a favorite book, watching a beloved movie, or practicing deep breathing. If your feelings are overwhelming, you are not alone. It’s OK to reach out to someone you trust.
It’s also OK to be happy. Rejoice in these feelings and cultivate gratitude that you can feel them. Whatever you may have been through this year, you do deserve to celebrate and feel good. However, practicing balance and self-care is just as important when you are happy. Nothing will spoil feelings of happiness like overdoing it. Incorporate movement every day, and get enough rest. If possible, reserve some quiet time for mindfulness practices, like deep breathing, and reflection.
On Friday November 18, 2022, San Mateo County (SMC) community members gathered at Redwood City Courthouse square for the first annual TransACTION Day of Change in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). SMC has observed TDOR since 2015. By providing these annual days of action, the planning committee hope to create more awareness, education, and visibility to stop this violence enacted toward transgender individuals.
In honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), TransACTION Day of Change was created to provide community the opportunity to commit to ending TDOR (#endTDOR). TDOR has traditionally been about honoring the trans people who have been murdered simply by being themselves (the highest number are Black Transgender women). The TransACTION Day of Change Planning committee (under the lead of LGBTQ Commission Director, Tanya Beat) wanted to honor victims’ lives with dignity and end the stigma that trans, nonbinary and gender diverse people face. Ultimately, we want to live in a world that no longer has Transgender Day of Remembrance. PRIDE Initiative cochairs Dana Johnson and Scott Gruendl joined community in support of TransACTION Day of Change. The featured event had resource booths, an Allegiance Wall, Reading of the Names, and ended in a Candlelight Vigil. PRIDE Initiative cochair and LGBTQ Commissioner Dana Johnson (they/ them) was the event emcee.
The event also offered a vaccination clinic which was able to administer 106 COVID-19 vaccinations and 8 MPOX vaccinations, according to the vaccine site manager.
For more information about TDOR and to view the TDOR 2022 PowerPoint presentation visit SMC LGBTQ Commission website here.
Saturday at noon, the radiant sun, and hundreds of people ready to experience an LGBTQ+ celebration for the first time. Not just any celebration, but the 10 year anniversary of San Mateo County’s PRIDE Celebration!
Volunteering at the 2022 San Mateo County Pride Celebration this past June was a group of BHRS’ Health Ambassadors, accompanied by their children. Joined by BHRS’ Office of Diversity & Equity, the Health Ambassadors helped collect demographic data of attendees to learn which communities were represented at the event. Along with volunteering, the Health Ambassadors were ready to make a special connection with their children and learn more about the LGBTQ+ community.
“[At the Pride Celebration] my 14-year-old daughter seemed very happy, very open, like she was in her world. It was very natural for her to go with me around the park asking attendees each of the 6 questions of the questionnaire. We found happy people, dancing and enjoying their acceptance,”
BHRS Health Ambassador, Lourdes Briseño, who had not attended a PRIDE celebration prior and, inspired by her experience at the festival, shared her story for the first time.
“When my daughter came out she was between 8 and 9 years old, but I feel that I did not listen to her… At age 12 she came out to her older brother. Luis clarified/educated me that my daughter is a lesbian and demanded that I never reject her. I could had avoided 4 years of her suffering…”, said Lourdes. “When we arrived at the park, my husband looked very uncomfortable, but at last he said that he wanted to attend a support group for parents with LGBTQ + children… Having attended this event was a way of supporting my daughter. She is very young and needs the support of her family and then the support of society, because we don’t live alone as a family, she must make her life safer and happier for herself. Also, I learned the term ‘Queer’*”
During the event, the community enjoyed local artists on stage, information booths breaking stigma around the LGBTQ+ community, and the playground for children and adults. While gifts were raffled and folks enjoyed the sun, it seems that the same balm of joy and freshness transforms minds and moves hearts.
“For me it was nice to see that people fight to feel comfortable with who they are and that they find freedom along the way. At my daughter’s age -14 years old- she is already clear that all people should be accepted as they are, and we don’t have to judge anyone. We weren’t taught that where I grew up”.
BHRS Health Ambassador, Angelica Zamora, originally from Mexico
BHRS Health Ambassadors collected a total of 826 demographic surveys from an estimated total of 2,400 attendees from various parts of the Bay Area and other states across the country. The Spanish speaking community was the second largest group of attendees after the English speakers.
You can find the Health Ambassadors continuing their support for LGBTQ+ communities at TransACTION Day of Change this Friday, 11/18 in Redwood City.
16 BHRS-Health Ambassadors and their families and pets attended the first NAMIWalks held in San Mateo County. BHRS’ Office of Diversity & Equity and Office of Consumer & Family Affairs offered San Mateo County resources at the fair.
NAMIWalks Your Way 2022 came to San Mateo County for the very first time on Saturday, October 8th at Seal Point Park in San Mateo. NAMIWalks Your Way is an opportunity to unite and magnify mental health awareness across the country. We’re all in this together, and together we walk towards a future where Mental Health for All is a reality.
In honor of *Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), San Mateo County and San Mateo County Pride Center invites you to TransACTION Day of Change where they are providing the community the opportunity to commit to ending TDOR (#endTDOR).
TransACTION Day of Change will feature resource booths, an Allegiance Wall, Reading of the Names, and a Candlelight Vigil. Creating change is difficult; especially when we mourn those who have lost their lives simply for being themselves. The event want to honor those who have died and also create ways for our community to learn and take action to #endTDOR.
Amazing agencies from San Mateo County and the Bay Area have been invited to provide exclusive resources, services and practical information that support trans and gender-diverse community members and their friends and families. This is where “ally” becomes a verb and we all take part in creating inclusive spaces at home, at work, and at school.
This event is free, inclusive, and will feature an Allegiance Wall where you can sign your name and walk away with practical ways to build awareness and ways that allies can impact and create a safer community for everyone.
Additionally, we are proud to announce that there will also be a COVID-19 and MPX vaccination clinics will be joining us. Both clinics are open to the public and they encourage folx to make appointments via MyTurn while walk-ins are also welcome. Please see the second attached flyer below for more information!
Questions? Email Tanya Beat, LGBTQ Commission Director, email@example.com or Azisa Todd, SMC Pride Center Lead Trainer & Events Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please join us for our 9th Annual Sana Sana, Colita de Rana event that is co-sponsored by BHRS’ Latino Collaborative, ALAS, SMC Public Health, Policy and Planning, and the BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity. The event will be held on Saturday, October 22 from 11 am to 3 pm at Cunha Intermediate School, 600 Church Street, Half Moon Bay, Ca. This is a family-friendly event to promote health and wellness among our Latinx community in SMC. This event will be in Spanish with English interpretation. We are proud to share that our keynote speaker will be Olga Talamante. Ms. Talamante is a Chicana political activist, former Executive Director of the Chicana/Latino Foundation, and an individual that has dedicated her life to advocacy, social justice, and community service. Additionally, we will have a Covid-19 vaccination clinic, food, music, resource booths, presentations by our BHRS Health Ambassadors and so much more. Please refer to the attached flyer for additional information.
This event is hosted by one of our BHRS Health Equity Initiatives (HEI). Our HEI’s were created to ensure that all members of our community are afforded access to services and quality care. The initiatives are dedicated to representing specific ethnic and cultural communities that have been underserved, inappropriately served, or unserved. Their work has assisted us in decreasing stigma, educating and empowering our communities, supporting wellness and recovery, building culturally responsive service, and being a bridge to our County services. Please help us post and share the attached flyers with your clients and networks.
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.
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).
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
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