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*Job Announcement* Director of the Office of Diversity and Equity

The County of San Mateo Health System is seeking a Director for the Office of Diversity and Equity. The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) advances health equity in behavioral health outcomes of marginalized communities throughout San Mateo County. Achieving health equity means that everyone in San Mateo County has a fair and just opportunity to experience positive behavioral health outcomes. This requires a concerted effort throughout BHRS, community-based partners and other County departments. ODE’s focus is to help facilitate this effort through the development of a workforce that prioritizes equity, cultural humility and inclusion; empowering individuals with lived experience, families and community members; fostering strategic and meaningful partnerships; and influencing organizational level policies and systems change across the county, region and state.

Learn more about ODE here: www.smchealth.org/ode

View the job announcement and application instructions here: http://jobs.smcgov.org/office-of-diversity-and-equity-director-open-andamp-promotional/job/8435794

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Police Victimization: A Link to Suicide

Among many different factors, one’s environment can play a major role in increasing risk for suicide. Almost 57% of suicide risk can be attributed traumatic events occurring in one’s physical and social environments. Stressful life events experienced at the neighborhood and community levels can create feelings of hopelessness, fear, sorrow, and despair. If left untreated, such feelings can translate to suicidal thoughts and/or attempts. One major environmental exposure of concern is police victimization, whose impacts stem beyond its immediate effects on death and physical harm. 

A study published just last year, found a 12-month prevalence of suicide attempts among individuals with lifetime exposure to police victimization. Police victimization was defined as: physical violence, physical violence with a weapon, sexual assault, psychological victimization, and neglect. Racial/ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, males, and low income populations disproportionately experienced and/or witnessed police victimization. Suicide attempts were highest among individuals specifically exposed to assaultive forms of police victimization such as physical violence, physical violence with a weapon, and sexual assault. In brief, it was established that assaultive police victimization is strongly associated with suicide attempts.

Given its serious collateral effects on mental health, there is an urgent need to prevent suicide among marginalized communities heavily exposed to police victimization. Comprehensive, trauma-informed trainings for police officers are one of many upstream approaches to help prevent exposure to police victimization. Trainings should specifically include information on Race-Based Trauma, given that police victimization is most commonly reported by African American and Latino populations. Additionally, people reporting exposure to police victimization should be screened for suicide ideation and/or attempts with tools that specifically assess for physical and sexual violence during police-community encounters. Screenings should then of course be followed by appropriate ongoing treatment and support. Applying both a preventive and treatment lens to this issue is critical, as it will ensure that we are fully supporting the lives, health, and wellbeing of individuals and entire communities impacted by police victimization.

San Mateo County’s Suicide Prevention Committee is currently focusing on two workgroups: QPR training and outreach. To learn more about the Suicide Prevention Committee, and how to become a member of the committee, visit here

Written by Angelica Delgado, Office of Diversity and Equity

 

New Study Reveals Loneliness is an Epidemic

AVG Loneliness Score in America

Possible loneliness scores range from 20 to 80, with the total average national loneliness score in America reaching 44. Source: Cigna

On May 1st, Cigna, a global health service company, revealed results from a national survey examining the impact of loneliness in the United States.

Using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, one of the best known tools for measuring loneliness, the results showed that of the 20,000 adults (ages 18 and older) surveyed across the country:

  • Nearly half (46%) reported sometimes or always feeling alone or left out.
  • Roughly 1 in 4 (27%) also reported rarely or never feeling as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Only around half of Americans(53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
  • Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generationand claims to be in worse health than older generations. This finding has not been found to have a correlation with social media. Adults within this age group who use social media comparing with adults within this age group who do not use social media were found to exhibit the same percentage of loneliness.

According to David Cordani, CEO of Cigna Corp, “There’s a blurred line between mental and physical health. Oftentimes, medical symptoms present themselves and they’re correlated with mental, lifestyle, behavioral issues like loneliness.”

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13 Reasons Why Season 2 Date Announcement Encourages Parents to Start Conversation

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With the start date of 13 Reasons Why Season 2 announced to be on May 18, youth crisis services are distributing resources online in preparation for youth who will be re-watching season 1. They encourage all to remind parents that while the show may be okay for fairly well adjusted teens to watch, the show can be triggering for those who are not or have had trauma or thoughts of suicide.

The 13 Reasons Why Discussion Guide encourages parents to watch the show with their teens, and encourage discussion afterwards. The guide also provides specific discussion questions and points that parents may use as conversation starters.

Many have taken issue with the season 1 release of the Netflix original, accusing the show of glorifying and romanticizing teen suicide. In response to this backlash, the show will be making a few adjustments to the second season such as having different cast members appear at the beginning of each episode warning of the content as well as an aftershow for the actors to have discussions and dialogues with mental health professionals and educators about the show.

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History Meets the Present: The Continued Resilience of East Palo Alto

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History has a way of centering us in our truth. It opens windows and doors into a deeper part of us and others. We begin to understand how things came to be, why your now citizen father grits his teeth every time he crosses a border, why there was a golf course in your neighborhood gated by a 20 foot fence that you never questioned, and even why you are determined to remain grateful no matter what life hands you.

It is one thing to visit a community, shop at their local grocery store, question what others have told you of this place and admire the warmth this community radiates. However, it is an entirely different experience to spend weeks gathering historical information about a community and then make eye contact. The closest comparison I can think of is accidentally opening East Palo Alto’s (EPA) diary, where they stored hopes, where they drew their future, and all the tear stained pages where they wrote about their trauma. There I sat flipping pages that looked like news articles, academic papers, and magazine spotlights that detailed the most intimate and violent experiences that this community had endured.

Through my research I learned about the redlining of EPA, and how this practice which backs mortgage lending to certain White neighborhoods and excludes others that house minorities, shaped what EPA would become. What this practice meant for residents was that they could not secure access to mortgages or capital so their property values were capped, and their access to gaining generational wealth was stifled. It also hardened racial divides, and left African American folk with limited options for where they could live.

The research revealed many personal stories of the first African Americans moving to the county and their neighbors protesting their arrival outside their homes and creating an environment of hostility so toxic that there was no choice but to move.

Additionally, there were also stories of folks moving to EPA and finding community, raising their children among family and developing strong social and community bonds.

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Are Implicit Bias Trainings Enough to Actually Stop Incidents Like Philadelphia Starbucks?

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On 4/12, two black men were sitting at a table at Starbucks without making a purchase and were arrested when declining a store manager’s demand to leave.

Since then, Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson has announced changes to its policy including mandatory implicit bias tests, shutting down all US Starbucks stores on May 29th. This opens larger conversations about what is implicit bias, how it can be harmful, and whether Starbucks’ implicit bias test can actually make a difference.

Implicit bias refers to the automatic associations people have in their minds about a group of people, including stereotypes. They are formed subconsciously and unintentionally, but result in the prejudiced behaviors, attitudes, and actions for or against a person or group of people.

According to CNN, studies have shown that implicit bias contributes to “shooter bias”, the tendency for the police to shoot unarmed black suspects more often than white ones

Starbucks’ Implicit Bias training intends to combat the issue of implicit bias. However according to Cornell professor, Michelle Duguid’s research, sometimes implicit bias trainings have a negative effect on its audience; by explaining to people that stereotyping is common, people are sometimes actually more likely to express those biases.

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Arab American Heritage Month

April marks National Arab American Heritage Month. Included in the California Senate Resolution are the acknowledgements that Arab Americans have been making valuable contributions to every aspect of American Society, set fine examples of model citizens, bring resilient family values, strong work ethic, dedication to education, and more. Read about the resolution here.

Here at the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), we are working to also recognize and support the Arab and Arab American communities.

In collaboration with ODE, BHRS, and the Arab Workgroup, students in the Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA) at Jefferson High School shared their stories. The students shared their stories in response to the framing question, “What does mental wellness look like in you community?”.

The students shared that they feel “othered”, that they are challenged with balancing expectations from two cultures, and that they are hopeful with their faith in Allah.

Sharing these stories is important for many reasons, including building visibility and recognizing the lived experiences of a community who’s stories are marginalized. As you read these stories, think about how you show up for our Arab and Arab American colleagues and consumers.

Similarly related, the U.S. government classified people of Middle Eastern descent as “white” since 1970. This has made it challenging to get an accurate count of Arab Americans in the U.S. and to determine how members of this population are succeeding financially, academically, etc. ODE is challenging this in our own health system by working with the Arab Work Group to add an option to the race/ethnicity demographic form that distinguishing Arab and Arab Americans from Middle Easterns. With this, we will be able to keep better track of the services we provide to ensure that we provide equitable care to all communities!

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