The sharing of a personal story can be self-reflective, educational, de-stigmatizing and incredibly empowering. During Recovery Month, we share stories of hope, resilience and recovery from those who have experienced substance use and/or mental health conditions. These individuals share their stories with the hope that others will be inspired to seek help and join them on the path to recovery.
This overall sense of low self-worth was the perfect combination to lead me toward becoming an addict. Through addiction, I lost myself for years. Using drugs helped me numb my feelings and emotions for most of my adult life... (Melissa)
This life I built over the course of four decades collapsed all at once. Like one big tower, my life came crashing down. The trigger: the demise of a relationship I was in. I found myself looking at a life without love, without the family I helped create, without a job, no place to live, and so forth. I felt I had outlived my usefulness and was too old to rebuild. So, I decided to go for the permanent fix and tried really, really hard to kill myself... (William)
Click here to read the inspiring personal stories of local residents who have experienced mental health and substance use issues.
The Palm Avenue Detox Center has become San Mateo County’s and California’s first standalone residential withdrawal facility. The new services provide a safe and supportive home-like environment for consumers who are acutely intoxicated or experiencing withdrawal symptoms
As of July 1, Medi-Cal beneficiaries began receiving new residential withdrawal management services at Palm as a result of the center’s recent certification under the county’s expanded Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (ODS), Continuum of Care.
The continuum of treatment services available under the ODS expanded significantly from the “original” Drug Medi-Cal program services to now include outpatient services, short-term residential services, withdrawal management, narcotic treatment program services, recovery services, case management, physician consultation, and additional medication assisted treatments.
Read the full article in the BHRS Newsletter, Wellness Matters, here.
There continues to be a great deal of stigma in American society associated with mental health illness, substance use and addiction.
However, with the number of opioid overdoses quadrupling nationwide since 1999 and drug-related deaths accounting for 2% of all deaths in San Mateo County in 2017, no one can afford to turn a blind eye.
As difficult as it may be to understand, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is not a social ill but actually a complex disease that can be treated. In coming together during this annual Recovery Month of September to support individuals with substance use issues, we must acknowledge that these individuals benefit from receiving medical help and community support.
Stigma can prevent those who can help from
wanting to help and those who need help from having the courage to seek it.
Learning about mental health and sharing personal stories are great ways to overcome stigma and so is supporting loved ones and friends on their journey of recovery.
You can also attend a Recovery month event. Find a complete list of events happening throughout the month in San Mateo here. Learn more about Recovery Month.
BHRS’ Lee Harrison, Consumer and Family Liaison in the Office of Consumer and Family Affairs, recently became Mental Health America’s 39th National Certified Peer Specialist. Lee adds this national advanced certification to previously held International and Louisiana State Peer Specialist Certifications. Read more
Partnership Will Expand Capacity for Integrated Behavioral Health Care on the Peninsula
San Mateo, CA – Two nonprofit behavioral health organizations with decades of service to individuals and families on the Peninsula have joined forces. As of June 1, 2018, Caminar and Project Ninety, both headquartered in San Mateo, have merged. Project Ninety now is a division of Caminar. By bringing together mental health and substance use treatment programs, Caminar and Project Ninety will strengthen support in San Mateo County for individuals in recovery, especially adults with co-occurring disorders. Read more
Every year, the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery Commission (MHSARC) recognizes individuals who have found their way to a path of wellness and recovery from mental illness and are active in the consumer movement to better the lives of other consumers in the county.
On March 7, the MHSARC honored Alan Cochran with the Mental Health Consumer Hall of Fame Award.
Alan took the opportunity to promote the HOPE program, a collaboration between NAMI SMC, Heart & Soul Inc., California Clubhouse and BHRS, where he has been hired as a peer mentor.
“This will be my first paid job since 2011, and it’s all because of the help I got from BHRS, San Mateo County and NAMI,” said Alan. For more on HOPE and Alan’s remarkable work in the behavioral health community, check out this Wellness Matters article.
The Lived Experience Academy is training consumers and family members to share their recovery stories in order to empower themselves and others, educate the health system and dispel stigma. Dinner will be provided at every session and those who complete the academy will be awarded a cash stipend. To participate, candidates must complete and return applications to Lee Harrison by Thursday, February 22. Please share the information below with family and friends who may be interested.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness San Mateo County (NAMI SMC) program, Peer PALS, is off to a great start. The free program pairs PALS, who are doing well on their own recovery journey with peers, who are also seeking recovery and could benefit from the friendship and support of a PAL who’s been there.
After holding the first PAL training in November, the program is gaining momentum and seeking more Peer and PAL applicants. NAMI SMC is also partnering with CATS, a free ticket program that will allow Peer PALS to attend exciting events and venues in the Bay Area.
For more information about PeerPALS, check out this Wellness Matters article, or email Rocio, the Peer PALS coordinator at PeerPals@namisanmateo.org.
Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender activist and columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, to recognize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, Rita’s murder exposed the lack of media coverage and particularly, culturally sensitive and respectful media coverage that takes place when transgender members of our community lose their lives to violent hate crimes. The communal anger and grief that was experienced led to a candlelight vigil that was attended by 250 participants. Eighteen years later, Transgender Day of Remembrance events occur on a national and international basis on November 20th each year, and often include a candlelight procession or vigil within the program.
On November 16th, 2017, San Mateo County Pride Center held San Mateo County’s second annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event. Transgender Day of Remembrance serves multiple purposes– this is a day for folks to come together and publicly mourn the lives of transgender siblings whose lives have been taken from us in brutal acts of violence and hatred, and a day for us to find strength within each other to mobilize and combat the violence our transgender community disproportionally faces. Transgender Day of Remembrance in San Mateo County included community speakers Alyss Swanson, Lexi Shimmers and Dr. Jei Africa, along with altars commemorating the lives of transgender siblings lost in 2016 and 2017, followed by a silent candlelight procession down El Camino Real to Central Park in San Mateo. During the procession, 25 participants traded their candles for signs that were each hand-painted by community members the afternoon prior with the names and ages of the lives we’ve lost in 2017. You can view the memorial we created for 2017 in the slideshow on this blog.