Category Archives: Office of Diversity & Equity

Interfaith Day of Prayer For Faith Hope and Life: Celebrating Life, Hope, and Reasons to Live

In honor of Suicide Prevention Month, San Mateo County’s 4th annual Interfaith Day of Prayer will be hosted on Thursday, September 5th from 12pm to 1pm at 400 County Center Courtyard in Redwood City 

 At the Interfaith Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope and Life, faith and secular leaders will join together to share their faith perspective on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

Faith leaders play a key role in supporting mental health and preventing suicide. These leaders are important sources of hope and strength for their congregants, counsel for those in crisis, and provide comfort and support in the aftermath of a suicide attempt or death. It is the faith leader who, at a memorial service or funeral, has a platform to encourage help-seeking by those at risk and remind all to be alert to the risk of suicide in their community.

According to Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders published by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation and the Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership Steering Committee, “Because religion and spirituality often play a vital role in healing, people experiencing mental health concerns often turn first to a faith leader. From a public health perspective, faith community leaders are gatekeepers or “first responders” when individuals and families face mental health or substance use problems.”  

List of presenters for the event include:

  • Rabbi Lisa Delson, Peninsula Temple Sholom
  • Fr. Lawrence Goode, St Francis of Assisi Church (EPA)
  • Scott Gilman, Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) 
  • BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) – Native Indigenous Peoples Initiative and Pacific Islander Initiative
  • Wesley Mukoyama, Volunteer Buddhist Chaplain at Santa Clara County Jail
  • Akshat Sharma, Sanatan Mandir Hindu Temple
  • Rev. Mary Frazier, Bread of Life Evangelistic Outreach
  • Pamela Ward, Lived Experience Academy
  • Helene Zimmerman,  Executive Director of NAMI SMC
  • Ishaq Pathan, Islamic Network Group
  • & more! 

Get involved in the National Weekend of Prayer on September 6th and 7th by joining in a world wide prayer event in your faith gathering place. Learn more here.  

 For more information about this event, visit or contact BHRS ODE Spirituality Initiative co-chair Melinda Riccosa at (650) 372 – 8573 or and Bill Kruse at (510) 506- 3815 or

To learn more about September Suicide Prevention Month, resources and for a full list of events, visit

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance use services and you have MediCal, Health Plan San Mateo (HPSM), or are uninsured, please contact BHRS ACCESS at (806) 686- 0101 or TDD at (800) 943- 2833. If you have private insurance please reach out to your insurance company and request support. 

#BetheOneSMC #ImHereForYou


September is Suicide Prevention Month (SPM), which includes National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8-14) and World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). This month, individuals and organizations around the country join their voices to amplify the message that suicide can be prevented, and that resources are available to support ourselves and others.

San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services (BHRS) is partnering with the San Mateo County Libraries, Peninsula Library System and community agencies in San Mateo County to host 20 free events and promote the #IMHEREFORYOU: Connection to Suicide Prevention campaign that aims to equip individuals with words and resources to connect with people who may be thinking about suicide. Events include support groups, informational presentations, volunteer opportunities, day of prayer, film screenings and craft workshops. 

“With the support of the Mental Health Services Act, San Mateo County needs to build our suicide prevention community through community education, provider trainings and conversations about suicide prevention.  In general, we need to reduce stigma around suicide, build partnerships and take a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention,” says the co-chair of the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee, Sylvia Tang.

Our theme for Suicide Prevention Month is interpersonal connectedness. Studies show that “[c]onnectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation or loneliness, and an increased number of positive relationships,” making it an important protective factor to prevent suicide. 

One San Mateo County community member has said “I wanted to die, and for the first time in my life, I plotted how would be the easiest and most painless way to go. It wasn’t just a fleeting thought. But the pain of not choosing my life and leaving my daughter to fend for life alone was even more terrifying. I chose MY life.” We know that interpersonal connections are a strong protective factor in suicide prevention and this month we want to highlight how we can support SMC in developing those connections. 

You Can Prevent Suicide

In the last couple of years several well-known figures in the food and entertainment industries died by suicide, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide rates rose in nearly every state in the U.S. Many of us have been personally impacted by the death of someone we know or someone we love. The problem can sometimes seem insurmountable.

While not every suicide can be prevented, by joining together throughout communities, we can reduce risk. Everyone has a role to play and a contribution to make. You can make contributions, big or small, including:  

  • Forge connections within your community.  Check in with friends, family members, co-workers or neighbors who are struggling. Offer your ear, shoulder and love to communicate to them that #ImHereForYou.
  • Learn the warning signs and how to help by visiting or by participating in a local training. For more information on trainings, contact Sylvia Tang ( or 650-578-7165).

  • Share local crisis hotlines. These are key 24/7 crisis hotlines that would be good to have handy (e.g. on your phone or in your wallet). These numbers are there for you whether you (or a loved one) are in a crisis or just want to talk.
    • StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County)​ – 650-579-0350
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
    • Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741

  • Promote September Suicide Prevention Month. Attend or spread the word about one of the September Suicide Prevention Month events or wear purple or teal. You can reach out to the Office of Diversity and Equity to pick up purple/teal ribbons. For updates and details, please visit 
  • Join the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee. To help prevent suicide year-round, please consider joining the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee. The Suicide Prevention Committee (SPC) provides oversight and direction to suicide prevention efforts in the County. The coalition usually meets the 1st Tuesday of the month 1:30-3pm. Meeting schedule can be found here.

If you or someone you know considering suicide, please reach out to these 24/7 crisis hotlines: StarVista Crisis Hotline (San Mateo County) – 650-579-0350, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or Crisis Text Line – Text “Home” to 741741.

Parent Project Fall 2019 All Class Flyer

The Parent Project® is a free, 12-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

Each class also provides free dinner and childcare to make it as accessible as possible to all parents/guardians.

Please help share Parent Project’s Fall 2019 All Class Flyer with your networks!

Mental Health Monday: Events Reminder #3

Event Reminders!

Mental Health Awareness Month 2019 is now on its 3rd week!

Here’s a friendly reminder of all the exciting events happening this week!

Mon, 5/13 7pm Singer-Songwriter Gaby Castro: Songs of Hope and Healing
Menlo Park Main Library
800 Alma Street, Menlo Park
Details: Castro combines introspective song writing with a contemporary style. An advocate for mental health awareness, many of Gaby’s songs touch on her personal struggles and the trials of those around her. 
Languages: English
Contact: John Weaver |

Fri, 5/17 6:30pm Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Randolph M. Nesse, M.D.
Menlo Park City Council Chambers
701 Laurel St, Menlo Park
Languages: English
Contact: John Weaver |

Sat, 5/18 1pm Introduction to Mental Health with NAMI
Portola Valley Library 
765 Portola Rd, Portola Valley
Details: Nami  San Mateo will present a mental health program discussing mental illness, as well as the services and programs that NAMI offers. Following this discussion, a person living well with their mental health diagnosis will be sharing their story.
Languages: English
Contact: Sherry Markrow; Paula Teixeira|

Sat, 5/18 1pm Str8jacket Hip Hop Dance Performance
Menlo Park Belle Haven Branch Library
413 Ivy Drive, Menlo Park
Details: Enjoy a performance by a dance team that values passion, and promotes mental health and acceptance. As a no-audition competitive dance team, Str8jacket promotes a real sense of family and community. Performance will be followed by a fun dance tutorial! 
Languages: English
Contact: John Weaver |

Sun, 5/19 2:15pm Walgreens presents Exercise & Physical Activity
South San Francisco Main Library
840 W. Orange Ave., South San Francisco
Details: Learn about the benefits of physical exercise for your mood and well being.
Languages: English
Contact: Stacy Lein |

For a complete list of events and more information about Mental Health Awareness month, visit  To find mental health and substance use services and resources in San Mateo County, visit

**Enter in our raffle to win lime green swag! All you have to do is “like” this post, comment below, and share the post on social media!**

#WordsOfWellness #BeTheOneSMC

Camp Glenwood Boys Share Their Stories

In November 2018, the boys in Section 4 at Camp Glenwood shared their stories about their hopes for Camp Glenwood and YSC. The Photovoice cohort wanted to highlight the services and resources that benefit them at Camp. They wanted to share their stories with decision makers and providers in San Mateo County in hopes of maintaining and expanding the services they feel that benefit them. This way, other young men who are labeled as “at-risk” in San Mateo County can receive the same resources and services that the boys in Section 4 feel benefit them. Unfortunately, these stories were especially prescient due to the recent news that Camp Glenwood will be closing and moved to Youth Services Center.

Their stories mention the benefits of ‘home passes’, the benefits of the weight room at Camp, and more.

Read more

11/16 – Technology Suite Advisory Committee

Technology Suite Advisory Committee

Recently, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) joined a County Behavioral Health Technology Collaborative, a statewide project aimed at utilizing technology- based and online services and supports to engage and increase access for individuals experiencing symptoms of mental illness who may struggle accessing traditional resources. 

We are seeking a Technology Suite Advisory Committee (TSAC), composed of mental health providers, mental health clients/consumers, family members and community members to help design and oversee the Technology Suite implementation and evaluation. The purpose of the committee is to have a forum for members to provide recommendations on the features offered through the Technology Suite and input on the implementation. The TSAC will review the Technology Suite activities and make suggestions for improvement. The Office of Diversity and Equity will be overseeing the implementation process. 

The informational meeting is to answer any questions, share more about the statewide project and the role of the committee.  You can attend the informational meeting to learn more without any commitment to further participation.

Written by Brittany Ganguly, Community Health Planner

Office of Diversity and Equity 

11/13 -Transgender Day of Remembrance 2018

Flyer - TGDR - 2018-1.jpg

Please join us  for our Transgender Day of Remembrance Gathering on November 13th, 2018 from 5:00pm-7:00pm at San Mateo Public Library. Our program will begin with a candlelight procession and solidarity chants through downtown San Mateo at 5:00pm. Afterwards, we will return to the library to hear from community speakers (additional youth speakers not included on flyer), share resources and learn about actions we can all take to stand in solidarity against anti-transgender violence. As a few of our nation’s leaders consider redefining the meaning of gender, erasing the experiences of transgender folks, we must unite to raise awareness of anti-transgender violence and the lethal implications of defining gender strictly within a binary. Our collective resistance is one more step towards wellness and healing for us all.

This event is brought to the community by the PRIDE Initiative, the LGBTQ Commission , The San Mateo County Pride Center, and BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity.

Written by Annette Pakhchian, LGBTQ+ Community Outreach 

Chinese Health Initiative’s New Meeting Schedule

Next Chinese Health Initiative (CHI) meeting is on Friday, November 2nd from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Room 201 at 2000 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo.

Starting November, CHI meets the 1st Fridays of the month 1:30 p.m.- 3:00 p.m. in Room 201 at 2000 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo. Our December meeting is scheduled for Friday, December 7th, same time and location. 

For the most up-to-date information, please contact the CHI Co-Chairs Shiyu Zhang and Winnie Wu at

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