Serenity House CRT Program Reopens

We are pleased to announce that the Serenity House Crisis Residential Treatment (CRT) program opened on Monday, October 3!

Serenity House is a 13-bed CRT program serving adults age 18+ with a diagnosis of mental illness, including those with co-occurring substance use disorders. In partnership with San Mateo County, the CRT will provide care to individuals aged 18 and above, 24-hours a day, 7 days per week.

The CRT will help people find relief from distress, maintain stability, and emphasize choice-making skills and harm-reduction techniques. Prior to arriving at the program, all referrals should call 650-539-0340 to access services.

Referrals may be generated through self-referral, local law enforcement, emergency responders, or being diverted from psychiatric emergency departments.

Learn more here.

Samoan Solutions 12th Annual Turkey Trot: Highlighting Community Care

As we kick off the Holiday Season, I am reminded of the importance of community and how I was recently surrounded by the Pacific Islander community.  As a member of the BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity Pacific Islander Initiative, I did my first 5K at Samoan Solutions 12th Annual Turkey Trot for Charity at the Brisbane Marina in South San Francisco.  Despite the bone chilling morning air, many made their health a priority by running and walking the 5K event.

This year’s beneficiary was Soup 4 the Soul which is a family led effort to provide for the needs of San Francisco’s homeless community. 2022 is Soup 4 the Soul’s 8th year of offering hot soup and necessities for those less fortunate during the Thanksgiving holiday. Samoan Solutions is giving a portion of this year’s proceeds to support this local effort of paying it forward.

To learn more about our Health Equity Initiative, visit here.
To learn more about our Pacific Islander Initiative, visit here.

Written by Twila Dependahl (she/her), BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity

12/21- Heart & Soul Holiday Open House

Join Heart & Soul in celebrating the holiday season! Learn about their programs, meet their team member, and gather in community. Their holiday open house is Wednesday, December 21st from 3pm to 6pm at 1633 Old Bayshore Hwy, Suite 258, Burlingame.

Heart & Soul is also offering an in-person Holiday Wellness Project: 2023 Vision Boards. How will you nurture your wellness in 2023? Vision boards are creative tools to hep you focus your awareness and intentions for the new year. Materials will be provided to create a 15 x 11 inch Vision Board. An image bank of hundreds of clippings, quotes and pictures will be available for you to use in your collage. If you have favorite imagery or meaningful wording to incorporate in your Vision Board, bring them with you!

For more info visit heartandsoulinc.org or email info@heartandsoulinc.org.

Holiday Wellness Toolkit: Take Action for Self-Care

  • Take Action for Self-Care #1. Check-in with others and get support when needed
  • Take Action for Self-Care #2. Listen to Music.
  • Take Action for Self-Care #3. Complete a Self-Care Assessment.
  • Take Action for Self-Care #4. How will you take action for mental health in 2023? Make time for self-care. Check-in with friends and family more often. Learn more about mental health and support options in community. Get support when needed.
  • Take Action for Self-Care #4. Are there ways that you can show gratitude to others by passing on kindness or joy?
  • Take Action for Self-Care #6. Practice mindful breathing once a day.

The holiday season is full of many colors, from cheerful reds and golds, to more calming tones, and somber hues. It is the multitude of colors that creates the special beauty of the season. This time of the year is an opportunity to celebrate and to acknowledge that not everyone feels festive. We can demonstrate the spirit of the season with kindness, generosity, and love by checking in with ourselves and others.  

It’s OK to not be happy. The holiday season is full of sights and sounds that can trigger symptoms of trauma, feelings of sadness, guilt, and shame because they are reminders of loss or vital things we do not have. When it seems like everyone else is swimming in joyful abundance, the contrast with how we are feeling can sharpen the pain. Even if we are fortunate enough to live in a comfortable home and be surrounded by helpful family, the increased presence of more intense socializing can cause anxiety.  

If you are feeling sadness or anger, ask yourself “what helps and what hurts”? Give a name to the things that trigger hard feelings and some thought to what makes you feel better. Simple things that can be found in everyday life are best, like taking a walk or ride outside, reading a favorite book, watching a beloved movie, or practicing deep breathing. If your feelings are overwhelming, you are not alone. It’s OK to reach out to someone you trust.  

It’s also OK to be happy. Rejoice in these feelings and cultivate gratitude that you can feel them. Whatever you may have been through this year, you do deserve to celebrate and feel good. However, practicing balance and self-care is just as important when you are happy. Nothing will spoil feelings of happiness like overdoing it. Incorporate movement every day, and get enough rest. If possible, reserve some quiet time for mindfulness practices, like deep breathing, and reflection.   

Read more

TransACTION Day of Change – Dreaming of a World without TDOR (#endTDOR)

On Friday November 18, 2022, San Mateo County (SMC) community members gathered at Redwood City Courthouse square for the first annual TransACTION Day of Change in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). SMC has observed TDOR since 2015. By providing these annual days of action, the planning committee hope to create more awareness, education, and visibility to stop this violence enacted toward transgender individuals.

In honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), TransACTION Day of Change was created to provide community the opportunity to commit to ending TDOR (#endTDOR). TDOR has traditionally been about honoring the trans people who have been murdered simply by being themselves (the highest number are Black Transgender women). The TransACTION Day of Change Planning committee (under the lead of LGBTQ Commission Director, Tanya Beat) wanted to honor victims’ lives with dignity and end the stigma that trans, nonbinary and gender diverse people face. Ultimately, we want to live in a world that no longer has Transgender Day of Remembrance. PRIDE Initiative cochairs Dana Johnson and Scott Gruendl joined community in support of TransACTION Day of Change. The featured event had resource booths, an Allegiance Wall, Reading of the Names, and ended in a Candlelight Vigil. PRIDE Initiative cochair and LGBTQ Commissioner Dana Johnson (they/ them) was the event emcee.

The event also offered a vaccination clinic which was able to administer 106 COVID-19 vaccinations and 8 MPOX vaccinations, according to the vaccine site manager.

“The event was affirming and a step towards change. I’m happy to be a part of this community and working with other community leaders in striving to make a safer community for trans, nonbinary and gender diverse folks. Identity, intersectionality, and inclusion is important to me, and I will continue to fight for trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse folks to be heard and seen.”

Dana Johnson, PRIDE Initiative Co-Chair and LGBTQ Commissioner


For more information about TDOR and to view the TDOR 2022 PowerPoint presentation visit SMC LGBTQ Commission website here.

In Solidarity,
Dana Johnson (they/ them/ theirs)

12/11 – Anonymous Gun Buyback

Anonymous Gun Buyback | Saturday, December 11 10am-2pm | 1000 Skyway Road, San Carlos

Get cash for your unused or unwanted guns. No questions asked, we do not run ballistics, and you can remain completely anonymous. Receive up to $100 cash for a handgun/shotgun/rifle, and up to $200 cash for an assault rifle.
You can find more details in this event flyer and website.

These events are important in advancing San Mateo County’s Suicide Prevention Roadmap. To help educate the community, the Suicide Prevention Committee has also contributed suicide prevention outreach materials (listed below) for this event.

Please consider sharing this event with your network in the San Mateo County community.

Help Name the Future Cordilleras Behavioral Health Campus

San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services would like your help in naming the future Cordilleras Behavioral Health Campus and its five new buildings— a Campus Center and four Mental Health Rehabilitation Centers (see digital rendering) currently under construction in the unincorporated area of Redwood City.  

The names should center around themes such as recovery, wellness, healing, and nature to capitalize on its beautiful, serene, natural setting to complement the process of wellness, rehabilitation, and recovery, as well as incorporate the vision of the project.

  

Submit suggestions using this form by November 23, 2022. 

A diverse committee will review and select the future names, which will be announced before the new programs open.    

About the programs that will be housed at the future Cordilleras Behavioral Health Campus:
The future Cordilleras Behavioral Health campus has been designed to provide a world-class healing therapeutic environment that is far more homelike and far less institutional. This came about from an extensive review of best clinical practices, as well as campus and building models around the world. Treating people in a smaller-scale, more homelike setting reduces social isolation and creates a more natural environment for healing and social skills training, thereby mitigating problems related to adjustment and recovery. There will be four 16-bed mental health rehabilitation centers and co-housing for 57 residents along with a Campus Center. Construction of the new $155 million campus is currently underway next to the current facility. Completion is slated for the fall of 2023. Learn more about this project.  

For questions, please contact Terry Wilcox-Rittgers, BHRS special projects coordinator at twilcox-rittgers@smcgov.org

Health Ambassadors Reflect on the Importance of SMC’s 10th Annual PRIDE Celebration

BHRS Health Ambassadors supporting 10 year Anniversary of San Mateo County’s PRIDE Celebration

Version en Español abajo

Saturday at noon, the radiant sun, and hundreds of people ready to experience an LGBTQ+ celebration for the first time. Not just any celebration, but the 10 year anniversary of San Mateo County’s PRIDE Celebration! 

Volunteering at the 2022 San Mateo County Pride Celebration this past June was a group of BHRS’ Health Ambassadors, accompanied by their children. Joined by BHRS’ Office of Diversity & Equity, the Health Ambassadors helped collect demographic data of attendees to learn which communities were represented at the event. Along with volunteering, the Health Ambassadors were ready to make a special connection with their children and learn more about the LGBTQ+ community.  

“[At the Pride Celebration] my 14-year-old daughter seemed very happy, very open, like she was in her world. It was very natural for her to go with me around the park asking attendees each of the 6 questions of the questionnaire. We found happy people, dancing and enjoying their acceptance,” 

BHRS Health Ambassador, Lourdes Briseño, who had not attended a PRIDE celebration prior and, inspired by her experience at the festival, shared her story for the first time. 

“When my daughter came out she was between 8 and 9 years old, but I feel that I did not listen to her… At age 12 she came out to her older brother. Luis clarified/educated me that my daughter is a lesbian and demanded that I never reject her. I could had avoided 4 years of her suffering…”, said Lourdes. “When we arrived at the park, my husband looked very uncomfortable, but at last he said that he wanted to attend a support group for parents with LGBTQ + children… Having attended this event was a way of supporting my daughter. She is very young and needs the support of her family and then the support of society, because we don’t live alone as a family, she must make her life safer and happier for herself. Also, I learned the term ‘Queer’*” 

During the event, the community enjoyed local artists on stage, information booths breaking stigma around the LGBTQ+ community, and the playground for children and adults. While gifts were raffled and folks enjoyed the sun, it seems that the same balm of joy and freshness transforms minds and moves hearts.  

“For me it was nice to see that people fight to feel comfortable with who they are and that they find freedom along the way. At my daughter’s age -14 years old- she is already clear that all people should be accepted as they are, and we don’t have to judge anyone. We weren’t taught that where I grew up”. 

BHRS Health Ambassador, Angelica Zamora, originally from Mexico 

BHRS Health Ambassadors collected a total of 826 demographic surveys from an estimated total of 2,400 attendees from various parts of the Bay Area and other states across the country. The Spanish speaking community was the second largest group of attendees after the English speakers.  

You can find the Health Ambassadors continuing their support for LGBTQ+ communities at TransACTION Day of Change this Friday, 11/18 in Redwood City.

Read more

Samaritan House Transportation Resources

Community Transportation Benefits Program

What is the Community Transportation Benefits Program?
The Community Transportation Benefits Program (Program) is sponsored and funded by the San Mateo
County 101 Express Lanes. The Program helps qualifying San Mateo County residents cover some of their
transportation costs.

How do I enroll?
There are eight Core Service Agencies that work in close collaboration with the Human Services Agency of
San Mateo County to provide you and your family with basic emergency and support services. You can enroll
for the Community Transportation Benefits Program through any of the following Core Service Agencies either
virtually or in-person. Their contact information can be found below:

Commute.org

Commute.org is your go-to resource to improve how you get to work.
Visit Commute.org to learn more about rewards and resources to help with your commute.

Commute Resources
– Shuttles: Free shuttles to BART and Caltrain
– Trip Planning assistance: Send us a request or use our online STAR trip
planning tool
– E-news: Sign up to stay connected with us

Learn more at Commute.org.

Health Ambassadors Join NAMIWalks 2022

16 BHRS-Health Ambassadors and their families and pets attended the first NAMIWalks held in San Mateo County. BHRS’ Office of Diversity & Equity and Office of Consumer & Family Affairs offered San Mateo County resources at the fair.

NAMIWalks Your Way 2022 came to San Mateo County for the very first time on Saturday, October 8th at Seal Point Park in San Mateo. NAMIWalks Your Way is an opportunity to unite and magnify mental health awareness across the country. We’re all in this together, and together we walk towards a future where Mental Health for All is a reality. 

To learn more about the Health Ambassador Program contact Charo Martinez at (650) 372-6136 or email mmartinezresendiz@smcgov.org.

Written by Charo Martinez (ella/sher/her), BHRS’ Office of Diversity & Equity

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