Category Archives: Stigma

StarVista Launches New Youth Website With Peer to Peer Chat Services

Written by Nicole Marshall, Youth Outreach Coordinator

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           As of January 2018, StarVista, a San Mateo County community based mental health provider, is excited to announce the launching of its fully renovated youth website, OnYourMind.net. This represents a huge success as it represents an expansion of services, and is also a win for the teen volunteers who run the site and have advocated for the changes. The site focuses on mental health and suicide prevention education, offering teen blogs and instant peer to peer chat. Teens are encouraged to seek direct support on a wide range of topics including relationships, stress, bullying, depression, identity, and health. New to the site are several redesigned interactive features: blogs allow visitors of the site to ask questions and leave comments, and new chat software allows seamless connection to fully trained teen counselors Monday through Thursday from 4:30PM to 9:30PM. The best part? OnYourMind.net and its chat services are now completely mobile accessible. Read more

Empowering Communities Far From Home

Written by Natalie Andrade, Mental Health First Aid

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Philippine Consulate’s Mental Health First Aid Training on January 27th.

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) was invited to the Philippine Consulate on Saturday, January 27 to provide a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to consulate staff. The Philippine Consulate provides services to Filipino Nationals in the San Francisco Bay Area. The day was filled with rich conversation about the struggles of feeling homesick and how this can affect one’s mental health, which is a taboo and stigmatized topic in the Filipino community. A participant stated that she was able to feel a connection to the information provided due to the cultural piece both instructors integrated in the course.

The word “homesick” is defined as the experience or longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it. When people leave their home countries, the sense of loss and homesickness is commonly felt. Homesickness is the word used by Philippine Consul General, Hon. Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. in his opening speech during the training to staff to describe the challenges they, as a community, often face when living away from home.

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AACI Hosts Black History Month Kick Off Event: Empowerment Begins with You

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On Saturday, January 27th, African American Community Initiative (AACI) will be kicking off Black History month with a fun, informative, and free event celebrating the wellness, resilience, and recovery of the African American Community. 

Stop by the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center to share stories, promote wellness and take one step towards improving the well being of our communities. With a focus on understanding substance use and suicide risk in the African American community, the event will feature a resource fair, informative presentations, a Photovoice panel where young people will share their stories, cultural entertainment, children’s activities and a free soulful lunch.

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K-Pop Artist’s Death by Suicide Sparks Conversation About Mental Health

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A portrait of Kim Jong-Hyun on a mourning altar at a hospital in Seoul on December 19, 2017.

Millions of fans mourn the tragic loss of K-Pop star, Kim Jong-Hyun, better known as Jonghyun, who died by suicide on Monday at the age of 27. Jonghyun was best known as the lead singer of K-Pop band, SHINee which rose to fame after the release of its debut EP, Replay, in 2008. As well as being a singer and accomplished dancer, Jonghyun played a large part in the group’s song writing and production.  He had also made headlines for speaking out on issues of the government’s education policy and in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

Jonghyun was considered one of the most talented and well- rounded artists in the K-Pop music industry. According to SM Entertainment, the singer’s management company, “Jonghyun is the best artist who loved music more than anyone else, enjoyed the stage, and loved to communicate with fans through his music. We will always remember you.”

Suicide continues to be a prevalent public health issue primarily due to the constant stigmatization of mental health. A petition on change.org was created in honor of Jonghyun asking for more mental health support for artists in the entertainment industry. The petition explicitly asks for all entertainment industries to make a plan or program to monitor mental health in their employees as well as ensuring that the program would not be used against them and harm their careers. This petition, once reaching its goal of 300,000 signatures is expected to be delivered to Entertainment Industries and the South Korean Government.

Hopefully this petition will increase conversations about mental health and suicide prevention as well as recognition of its importance in saving a life.

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FMHI’s Immigrants: At the Crossroads was a Great Success!

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Last Saturday on 12/9, the Social Justice Ministry of St. Andrew Catholic Church partnered with the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FMHI) to host an immigration forum called Immigrants: At the Crossroads. The aim of this event was to empower members of the Filipino community to improve their mental health, increase knowledge about immigrant rights, and let the community know that health is available.

Attorney Lisa M. Newstrom, a managing attorney from Bay Area Legal Aid presented on the rights of noncitizens in healthcare programs. In her work, Newstrom commonly hears questions related to what health care an immigrant or low-income person can receive. Bay Area Legal Aid is able to provide help for low-income people for free, relating to topics of domestic violence, housing preservation, economic security, health access, and consumer protection. They focus on specific client populations, including youth and veterans.

Attorney Lourdes Tancino of Tancino Law Offices also covered updates on immigration laws. Tancino Law Office is a full service law firm assisting clients in business and immigration matters. They specialize in family-based immigration, employment based immigration, temporary work visas, removal/ deportation defense and naturalization.

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Mental Health Awareness Poetry Slam at Philz Coffee

The room was filled with a standing audience at the first Mental Health Awareness Poetry Slam at Philz Coffee in Westborough on Friday, November 17 6:00-8:00PM.  District 5 Supervisor David Canepa, the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FHMI) and Chinese Health Initiative (CHI) hosted this event and plan to host more on an ongoing basis. There were youth and adults who shared their poems and many shared very personal lived experience with mental health, addiction and suicidal ideation. The room was filled with not only people but courage from the poets and support from the audience.

Written by Sylvia Tang, Co-Chair of Suicide Prevention Committee

Learn more about suicide prevention at: smchealth.org/suicide-prevention

December 9 – Filipino Mental Health Initiative Immigration Forum

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The Office of Diversity and Equity’s Filipino Mental Health Initiative(FMHI) is excited to announce they will be hosting an immigration forum, Immigrants: At the Crossroads, for the Filipino Community on Saturday, December 9th at St. Andrew Catholic Church Hall in Daly City from 1:30 – 4pm. 

According to Psychiatric Services, the Philippines is the fourth largest country of origin of immigrants to the United States, and the second-fastest-growing Asian immigrant group in the United States. Yet Filipino Americans are shown to significantly under-utilize existing mental health care services that are culturally, socially, and linguistically incompatible with their needs. Along with stigma, the attachment to traditional practices and healing methods remains a notable barrier to appropriate care for the Filipino American community.

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Overcoming Violence against Trans Community

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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.

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What does “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean for the Latino community?

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For the last 5 years the Office of Diversity and Equity’s Latino Collaborative has put together the Annual Latino Health Forum, “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” to provide an opportunity for Latino families to come together to learn strategies for emotional and physical well-being.

But what does the phrase “Sana, Sana Colita de Rana” mean?

When translated literally it means “heal, heal, little frog’s tail.” This expression is commonly used in many Latino communities to offer consolation when one, specifically a child, has fallen or gotten hurt. The phrase continues with “if you don’t heal today, you will heal tomorrow.” At its core this message is meant to offer relentless encouragement, that while we may be suffering today, things will get better tomorrow. 

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Supporting Healthy Families and Building Stronger Communities

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) had the honor of graduating two Health Ambassadors, Maria Valencia Trinidad Hernandez and Alexi Rosales, during the monthly Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery Commission on November 1st.  They each shared with the group their heartfelt personal stories and dedication to help support healthy families and build stronger communities.

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Left to right: David Young (Director of BHRS), Maria Valencia Trinidad Hernandez (HAP graduate), Alexi Rosales (HAP graduate), Jei Africa (Director of ODE)

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) started the Health Ambassador Program (HAP) in 2014.  HAP was first created per the request of parents subsequent to graduating the Parent Project program. After their 12-week course  spent sharing their stories, learning new parenting skills, and supporting one another, the graduates expressed wanting to continue learning about mental illness and staying  connected with each other, their neighbors and community members.

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