There are an unlimited number of issues and challenges facing California’s public mental health and substance use (behavioral health) system. Despite billions in revenue being distributed to California counties, there are significant barriers to accessing treatment. Stigma remains one of the main forces keeping people from seeking treatment at all levels of behavioral health needs. Read more from BHRS Director, Scott Gillman, on stigma and the impact it has on individuals and their family members who might need help.
Category Archives: Stigma
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.
The six-week course known as “NAMI Basics,” provides basic mental health support training based on protocols from the National Alliance for Mental Illness. NAMI Basics, offered for the first time in Spanish on the Coastside, offers information and guided support for family members and caregivers of youth and young adults with mental health disorders and is graduating its first class of participants next week.
Overall, the Latino community does not talk about mental health issues so there is a general lack of information and misunderstanding about the subject,” according to information provided on NAMI’s website.
“Some people refuse to acknowledge that their kids have mental health issues. We want them to know that they are not alone,” said San Mateo County Sheriff’s Sgt. Victor Lopez.
Click here to read more about this unique program.
A special thank you to Burlingame High School [BHS] for inviting us to their on-campus resource fair for Suicide Prevention and Awareness week. In recognition of September as the National Suicide Prevention month, the counseling team at Burlingame High School organized a tabling event which included community agencies such as StarVista, Health Right 360, The Crisis Text Line, and The San Mateo County Pride Center. The resource fair was held during lunchtime, allowing students to ask questions, learn about different services and resources offered, and gain awareness regarding suicide prevention. We were able to bring awareness to students about knowing the signs of suicide, finding the words to say to a friend or loved one, and how to reach out for help.
Alongside the tabling participation, BHS incorporated games and activities to promote their messaging campaign, “You Matter,” where students wrote positive messages of encouragement to express a shared sentiment of community support amongst peers. The poser is to be displayed on campus.
If you or someone you know is facing a mental health crisis, call the StarVista Crisis Hotline 650-579-0350 (1-800-273-8255).
For more information on how to help a loved one who may be at risk of suicide, visit www.suicideispreventable.org.
For information on San Mateo County suicide prevention resources, visit www.smchealth.org/suicideprevention.
Written by Alicia Vasquez and Priscilla Bustos, Office of Diversity and Equity interns
Last Wednesday, on September 19th, over 100 people attended San Mateo County’s first ever S- Word Film Screening and Panel hosted at the San Mateo High School Performing Arts Center in collaboration with San Mateo Union High School District, Star-Vista and the Office of Diversity and Equity.
The S- Word is a documentary following a survivor of a suicide attempt as she embarks on a mission to document the stories of fellow survivors and document their stories of insight, humor, and courage. She discovers a national community rising to transform personal struggles into action.
During the panel discussion, audience members were able to ask questions about suicide anonymously that were displayed on the projector for the panelists to answer. Questions included “how do I connect with others that are considering suicide” and “what’s the best time or age to talk about this topic?”
Sylvia Tang, Office of Diversity and Equity, Co- Chair of Suicide Prevention Committee, and Co- Coordinator of this event states,
“I am so thankful that we had an engaged audience who asked thoughtful questions and wanted more community screenings of the S-Word. This film helped start a dialogue about suicide; this is such an important first step in suicide prevention because it raises awareness and reduces stigma around suicide. We hope more community members and agencies join the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee because we need everyone to help prevent suicide in our schools and greater community.”
Special thanks to all the panelists:
- Ali Pond – Health Ambassador Program – Youth
- April Torres – San Mateo Union High School District
- Islam Hassanein – StarVista Crisis Center
- John Butler – Lived Experience Academy
- Karina Chapa – StarVista Crisis Center
- Yolanda Ramirez – San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services
And all who tabled including:
- Adolescent Counseling Services
- Advancing Client and Community Empowerment through Sustainable Solutions (ACCESS)
- Peninsula Family Services
- National Alliance for Mental Illness of San Mateo County (NAMI SMC)
- San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity
- San Mateo County Pride Center
- San Mateo Police Activities League – Stride for Awareness
- Veteran Suicide Prevention
- Bring Change 2 Mind
- San Mateo Union High School District Wellness Program
When parents and caregivers sign up to take the 12 week Parent Project course, they might not know what is in store for them. A sense of community is built in those short weeks and the knowledge gained sparks a deeper interest to continue learning to help others and their children.
By offering a Youth Mental Health First Aid training after Parent Project, parents and caregivers learn why knowing the signs of a mental health challenge or crisis, including suicide, can help their children. For many, their children are first generation U.S. born children, who face the challenges of growing up in a culture different from their parents. For many parents and caregivers attending the training, trying to understand the world their children are growing up in and finding the support from their peers in the room is the most beneficial aspect of their time in the class.
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. For more information, please contact Frances Lobos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) course is an 8-hour public education training program designed for any adult working with or assisting young people, ages 12-24. For more information on Youth Mental Health First Aid, please contact Natalie Andrade at email@example.com
To learn more about other programs and classes similar to these, visit the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE)’s website here.
Written by Natalie Andrade, YMHFA Program Coordinator
On Tuesday May 1st, Westmoor High School in Daly City will be hosting a Parent Education night for May Mental Health Awareness Month. This will occur between 6:30-8:30 p.m. Panelists will talk about different concerns that students may face such as student stress, mental health concerns, and suicide. This is a great opportunity for parents to gain additional information and support. A FREE dinner will be served, and there will be Spanish interpretation services available as well. RSVP Links Below!
Please let your community and networks know of this free event!
This year, in celebration of May Mental Health Awareness Month (MMHAM), San Mateo County’s annual kick-off event will be on May 4th from 6-9pm at Cunha Intermediate School in Half Moon Bay.
Did you know 1 in 4 people experience a mental health challenge, but fewer than half are getting the help they need? One of the main reasons for this is due to the large amounts of stigma towards mental health.
At this FREE event, learn about mental wellness and how to stop stigma in your community. Learn about all the mental health resources available in your community to understand that help is available.
Enjoy FREE food, dance performances from local dance groups, poetry slams, short film screenings, wellness crafts, and more!
We welcome everyone!
On Saturday, April 21st, the Filipino Mental Health Initiative(FMHI) and Pacific Islander Initiative(PII) welcome all to attend this upcoming Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
This training is the standard MHFA training, but also incorporates Asian- Pacific Islander (API) culturally-responsive material: giving participants an opportunity to learn about how to help friends and family members, who may be experiencing a mental health condition or crisis, and get certified.
This event is of huge importance for San Mateo County’s API community for a few reasons. SMC’s API community continues to have a lot of stigma around mental health; there remains a division between SMC’s API community; and there is not much available data and resources around mental health for the community.
The goals of this event are to:
- Decrease stigma around mental health in the API community
- Build solidarity among APIs
- Bring visibility to API communities to gain more data and resources around mental health 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.
“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.