Natalie Andrade with ALGEE the MHFA mascot
Before I started working at the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), I did not have a clue as to what the warning signs of suicide, depression, and anxiety were. It wasn’t until I became a Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) instructor that I realized the importance of knowing the signs of mental health challenges. During my instructor training, taught by two amazing trainers from the National Council, I felt empowered to go back to my community and teach others important skills one can learn from the training. Knowing the signs of suicide can help save a life, yet the most challenging piece of knowing the signs is having the courage to start the conversation about suicide with someone you are concerned about.
In the YMHFA training, participants practice using a 5-step action plan called ALGEE, which stands for:
- Assess for risk of suicide or harm
- Listen nonjudgmentally
- Give reassurance and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies
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.
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.
Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day, and in commemoration of this year’s theme “Mental Health in the Workplace”, Mental Health First Aid USA provides some thought provoking statistics about how “good health is good for business, and good health includes mental health”.
According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, 1 in 5 American adults have a mental illness and 1 in 10 full time employees have an addiction. Even more concerning is that 35% of managers feel they receive no formal support or resources to help employees. This highly correlates with work performance as mental health in the workplace is known to impact productivity, engagement, and quality of work. High-performing teams also rely on inclusion, respect, and skillful communication which fall under the umbrella of good mental health.
This week, October 1st through October 7th, is Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, but highlighting them during this week provides a dedicated time for mental health allies and advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice.
This year during MTV’s Video Music Awards, rapper Logic released the video for his new song titled 1-800-273-8255. The song brought up the topic of suicidal ideation: the feeling of not wanting to live and feelings of hopelessness. The video portrays a black high school student struggling to cope with his father’s reaction to his sexuality and the loneliness of abruptly losing a safe haven. Watch the video here.
A coalition of local leaders in schools, mental health, crisis intervention, law enforcement and government are utilizing Measure K funds to prevent suicide in our schools and community. This unprecedented effort includes a Suicide Prevention Protocol and Threat Assessment Protocol that help school staff identify and help students who may be in crisis.
The $15.6 million in funds invested by the Board of Supervisors since 2013 have yielded tangible results in prevention and early intervention. Nearly 2,000 individuals have been trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid. For more on how San Mateo County is providing help and hope to youth in crisis, see this report.
Moonridge Apartments are a secluded apartment complex surrounded by rolling hills in an unincorporated area of San Mateo County, where its residents are predominantly Latinx and monolingual. Providing YMHFA for this community challenged the stigma often associated with mental health and connected residents to resources and supports provided in their area, including what to do if someone is having a mental health crisis or emergency. Supervising Mental Health Clinician Hector Moncada from Coastside Clinic attended the training to answer any questions and provided information on services offered by the clinic and in the community.
#BeThe1To remind the #Veterans and #Servicemembers in your life that you support them. 1 small act can make a big difference for those in crisis. Learn more how to support a veteran in crisis by attending the Department of Veteran Affairs Suicide Prevention Training on Friday, September 22 10-11:30am at 225 37th Avenue, San Mateo. Register by 9/18 at www.vasuicideprevention.eventbrite.com. #SMCPrevention
If you or someone you know is facing a mental health crisis, call the 1-800-273-8255. For veterans, press 1.