Category Archives: Office of Diversity & Equity

Pacific Islander Suicide Prevention Cards Available for Delivery

Are you interested in our updated Pacific Islander Suicide Prevention cards? Click the pdf below to print or we can deliver it to your organization. If you are interested in having the cards delivered, please email Kristie Lui (she/her) at

These cards were developed by the Pacific Islander Initiative (PII). To learn more about PII, visit

Messaging Matters: Safe and Effective Messaging for Suicide Prevention

Version en Español abajo | 以下為中文版本 

Hello, everyone! 

The way we talk about suicide can contribute to suicide prevention. Next time you bring up the topic of suicide, remember these helpful tips:  

  • Provide a suicide prevention resource
  • Educate the audience about warning signs and risk factors 
  • Avoid discussing details about the method of suicide 
  • Explain complexity of suicide. Avoid oversimplifying 
  • Focus on prevention. Avoid sensational language and images 

More suicide prevention events and resources at  

Events happening this week 

💜 Mon, 9/25 – Be Sensitive Be Brave at Belmont Library 

💜 Wed, 9/27 – Be Sensitive Be Brave at Atherton Library 

💜 Thurs, 9/28 – Be Sensitive Be Brave at Half Moon Bay Library 

💜  Thurs, 9/28 – Crafternoon hosted at SMC Pride Center, San Mateo 

💜 Fri, 9/29 – Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud via Zoom 

💜 Sat, 9/30 – Recovery Dance at P90 Friendship Hall, San Mateo 

Attend events, get involved and find support at 

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, contact our 24/7 CRISIS hotlines:                
Call 650-579-0350 or 988                
Text “Bay” to 741-741 or 988                

In community,  

Sylvia Tang & Kristie Lui 

Fall 2023 Parent Project Classes in Spanish

The Parent Project is a free, 12-week course designed for parents and caregivers with adolescents who display challenging behaviors. Offered in both English and Spanish, the classes teach both prevention and intervention strategies that focus on the following areas:
• Dealing with unhealthy and/or dangerous behaviors in teens
• Strengthening family relationships

Participants gain access to resources and other support systems available in their communities, and also practice effective parenting skills that include:
• Developing appropriate family structure
• Preventing or ceasing the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco
• Enhancing communication skills
• Improving grades and school attendance

To learn more about Parent Project, visit

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

Join us for National Day of Prayer: Serenity for Behavioral Health & Understanding on Tuesday, 10/10 from 12pm to 2pm at 400 County Center, Redwood City!

We are ALL touched by mental illness. Only with the guidance, prayers and actions from our faith and behavioral health networks working together, will our communities reach better mental health and well-being.

At the Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health and Understanding, faith and secular leaders will join hundreds of events around the country to publicly recommit ourselves to replace misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with truth, inclusion and love in order to offer hope and support to those most in need.

Community members, consumers, family members, faith community and behavioral health providers all welcome!

The National Day of Prayer has been observed in San Mateo County since 2016.

This event will be in-person with livestreaming. To register for the livestreaming, click here.

First-Ever Youth Mental Wellness Pathways Workshop Piloted by San Mateo County Behavioral Health Youth Committee

Just in time for Teen Mental Health Month, on August 1st, the San Mateo County Behavioral Health Youth Committee piloted its first-ever Youth Mental Wellness Pathways Workshop guided by the vision of creating clear, culturally sensitive and empathy-based access – “pathways” – to mental and behavioral health care for youth and their families no matter the point-of-entry.  With the ultimate goal of creating a simple yet effective navigational tool with heart, the pilot was designed for participants to:

  • Share their lived experiences (both positive and negative — i.e. barriers encountered) in navigating the system;
  • Exchange insight on how to effectively navigate the process;
  • Gather early data for an MVP pathways map that: (1) defines what questions to ask; (2) empowers with rights and sets expectations; (3) directs where to go; and (4) connects with supportive tips and networks.

 In small groups, parents, caregivers, educators, youth and mental health and behavioral health practitioners shared a unique mental wellness experience; identifying the feelings, thoughts, and actions that occurred before, during, and after attempting to access care. They mapped their pathway, then as a group, participants discussed their responses and then assessed the trends on their pathway. This was followed by a gallery tour, where each participant looked at each group’s pathway to better understand the thoughts, feelings, and obstacles that arise when attempting to access behavioral health care, as well as to define needs at each stage.

Through this event, participants were able to share their lived experiences to understand the realities associated with seeking behavioral health care. Whether that be fear, linguistic barriers, or the difference between therapy and youth therapy, this event created a space for identifying these real-life experiences from San Mateo County staff and families – and, importantly, co-created practical steps to support youth and families in moments of greatest need.

For future sessions, the Youth Committee plans to meet different communities within San Mateo County to host similar sessions among more youth, parent and caregivers, and educators of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. BHRS Office of Diversity would like to thank BHC Commissioner and Youth Committee Chair Frieda Edgette, BHC Commissioner, Commission on Disabilities Commissioner and County of Education Board Trustee Chelsea Bonini, BHRS Deputy Director of Youth and Family Services Ziomara Ochoa, Commission on Disabilities Commissioner and San Mateo Union School District Board Trustee Ligia Andrade Zuniga, volunteer William Elting, Consumer & Family Affairs TITLE Yolanda Ramirez and Parent Project Program Coordinator II Nicoletta Kelleher for their outstanding efforts in piloting this event. In addition, the Office of Diversity and Equity expresses deep gratitude to all the attendants that shared their lived experience and made this event possible.

If you are interested in learning more, getting involved or bringing the pathways workshop to your organization, please contact Nicoletta Kelleher at

The Latino Collaborative Honors Diverse Community with New Name

Hola Communidad, we have big news! As one of the Health Equity Initiatives (HEI) within San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services (BHRS) Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), the Latino Collaborative is now the Latino/a/x Collaborative.

Names are more than just names. Names reflect what we stand for and who we are. Therefore, it is with great orgullo (pride) that our members and leadership share this announcement. This re-brand acknowledges and embraces the diverse gender identities within our Latinx community, promoting inclusivity and respect for all individuals. Significantly, this shift reflects a commitment to recognizing and valuing the multifaced experience and expression of gender among and within Latinx identified individuals Latin American and Hispanic people.

Our Latino/a/x Collaborative strives to incorporate inclusive language into our communications to create an environment where everyone feels recognized, respected, and valued. We invite you to share your voice and support our efforts to uplift the voices of the Latino/a/ax community at our HEI monthly meetings. Meetings are currently the 4th Tuesday of the month from 3:30 pm to 5 pm via zoom. Additionally, BHRS clients, family members, and community members who attend an HEI meeting can receive a stipend for their time and expertise. For more information visit us at Gracias!

Written by Gloria Cahuich Gonzalez, Co-Chair of Latino/a/x Collaborative

August is Teen Mental Health Month + Transgender History Month!

Did you know that August is both Teen Mental Health Month and Transgender History Month?

Teen Mental Health Month occurs every August and is dedicated to promoting and prioritizing the mental well-being of teenagers. It aims to educate, support, and empower teens by providing resources, events, and initiatives focused on mental health and wellness.  Here are some important facts highlighting the importance of teen mental health: 

Show your support for Teen Mental Health Month at your next virtual meeting. Use our virtual background and spark conversation about how together, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those in our communities, as well as the broader teenage population.

On August 24th, 2021, Mayor London Breed signed and declared by proclamation, the month of August in the City and County of San Francisco as “Transgender History Month.”  It is a month in which we can all honor the rich history and contributions of transgender history makers, pioneers, trailblazers and affirm the ongoing presence of transgender people around the world.  Why do we celebrate Transgender History Month in August? on August of 1966, Black and brown trans women and drag queens led a riot at Compton’s Cafeteria in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. Now known as the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots of 1966, it is regarded as the first large-scale act of resistance of transgender and queer individuals against police harassment in the United States–predating the Stonewall Inn Riots by 3 years.  
The riot attracted hundreds of Tenderloin residents in the middle of the night and changed the way transgender individuals were treated in San Francisco. Although smaller than New York’s Stonewall Inn Riots, this was a moment that led to strengthening the transgender community and allies coming together and mobilizing together. Over time this led to changes in “medical practices, urban politics,  neighborhood geography, and public consciousness” (Screaming Queens. (n.d.). KQED
Here are some important facts highlighting the importance of recognizing Transgender History Month and continuing to support our communities:

  • Transgender adults report struggling with mental health challenges at least one day in the past month (60%), compared with 37%  of cisgender adults.*
  • Transgender adults report struggling with physical health challenges at least one day in the past month (54%), compared with 36% of cisgender adults.*
  • While 30% of cisgender heterosexual adults reported contemplating suicide in their lifetime, this number jumps to 81% for transgender adult respondents.*
  • Almost half (48%) of Transgender respondents reported that since the age of 18 they have been physically attacked or sexually assaulted at least once (36% percent for cisgender heterosexual adults).*
  • Discrimination or mistreatment by health care providers was experienced by 68 % of transgender respondents of color and nearly 1 in 2 transgender respondents.*

*Protecting and Advancing Health Care for Transgender Adult Communities. (n.d.). Center for American Progress

Learn more at  Show your support for Transgender History Month at your next virtual meeting. Use our virtual background and spark conversation about the month’s history and ways to support trans communities year round.  

Why say “BIPOC” Instead of “Minority?

Happy BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color ) Mental Health Awareness Month! The way we talk about things can often influence the way we think about them. In the field of mental health, we often talk about using  “person first” language. This is language that prioritizes the identity of individuals as human beings first over their mental health status (e.g. saying “person with schizophrenia” instead of “schizophrenic”). This concept should be used as well in the way we refer to communities. The use of “minority” labels BIPOC communities in terms of their quantity instead of their quality. The term “minority” also emphasizes the power differential between “majority” and “minority” groups and can imply “minority” is synonymous with inferiority.

Though “minority” may continue to be used in academic spaces, the words the mental health community uses should be mindful of how these terms create and perpetuate negative images and stereotypes of those that identify as BIPOC. By including “BI” Black and Indigenous in addition to “POC” people of color, we are also honoring the intersectional experiences of Black and Indigenous individuals and their communities, as well as the spectrum of existence and experience by POC.  

Learn more about  BIPOC Mental Health and San Mateo County BHRS’ Health Equity Initiatives.

Learn more about BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity here.    

Big Smiles & Beautiful Conversations at AACI and VoRSMC 23′ Juneteenth Celebration

Thank you, all who joined us for African American Community Initiative (AACI) and Voices of Recovery San Mateo (VorSMC)’s 2nd annual Juneteenth Celebration on Friday, June 16th 2023.

Special highlights from this event include a resource fair which included or harm reduction table and Student National Medical Association (SNMA) at Stanford School of Medicine who provide health checks for the community. Musical selections were provided by Q Smith, Praise dancing performances were provided by SherOnMyPraise Ministries. and drumming provided by Onye Health and Well Being in Drumming. Thank you also Supervisor Noelia Corzo and Mayor Lisa Gauthier of East Palo Alto for attending and speaking.

The event also included a panel discussion focused on health and other topics. Panelists included Ja’Net Lawrence, Darris Young, Dwyane Aikens Jr., Bunmi Fariyike, Maximillian Bailey, Nnamdi Orakpo, MD, PhD, and Keon Pearson, MD/MBA.

This event was held virtually with approximately 130 people attending in-person and approximately 50 people attending online.

About African American Community Initiative
The mission of the African American Community Initiative is to become a known resource for African American Community members facing challenges with finding and utilizing mental health services, while addressing inequalities faced by African Americans in our county.  Our vision is to build a community driven support system for reducing mental health and substance use treatment disparities, and the stigma of mental illness.  Learn more about AACI here.

Meet ODE’s Workforce, Education and Training (WET) Team!

Angela Quiroz, Elise Cabilatazan, Andrew Tardiff, Stacy Williams, Irene Pham

The love of learning, hope for growth and passion to be part of the fight for equity are some of the values that drives BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity‘s WET team. The WET team, consisting of new and seasoned members, is excited to come together to continue fostering growth within our system while also seeking to accomplish established goals and support the learning needs of our staff through a variety of trainings, workshops, and programs.

In the upcoming fiscal year, the WET team is striving to bring back a number of trainings both in-person and virtual including Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Prevention and Management of Assaultive Behavior, and Motivational Interviewing, to name a few, as well as increasing staff’s access to Continuing Education (CE) eligible trainings.

Moreover, the internship program is spurring to action and preparing to welcome our next round of clinical and ODE interns. The WET team is kicking things off with an in-person orientation; an event that has not happened in 2 years due to the pandemic. A number of interns will benefit from being identified as cultural stipend participants and have the opportunity to work alongside one of the Health Equity Initiatives (HEIs) on a community related project. The internship program is also being revamped to include new outreach strategies to help bolster the training opportunities offered in our county.

We aim to do our part to support our teams with their professional and personal growth and will continue to look for ways to improve and excel.

Written by Irene Pham (she/her), BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity

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