Health Ambassadors Make a Strong Presence at 2nd Annual Pink Patch Party

For San Mateo County’s second annual Pink Patch Party, organized by the San Mateo Police Department, downtown San Mateo was transformed with an abundance of pink, symbolizing unity and support for those affected by breast cancer.  This year’s event was a heartwarming display of solidarity with families, local businesses, public servants, and friends coming together in support of breast cancer awareness. Notably, BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity‘s Health Ambassadors played a pivotal role in the event’s success.

Local organizations and businesses set up booths, offering community members resources and services related to health and wellness, with our Health Ambassadors highlighting valuable behavioral health and recovery resources. Additionally, free mammograms were provided, and collectible uniform “Pink Patches” were sold to raise money for breast cancer research as well as to fund self-care “battle baskets” that provide comfort to those newly diagnosed.  

This event goes beyond the display of pink patches; it embodies a steadfast commitment to those affected by breast cancer and the importance of mental health and well-being.  The Health Ambassadors contributed to this event in a variety of ways including:

  • Health Education: Providing attendees with vital mental health educational materials as well as self-care and wellness tools.
  • Community Engagement: Engaging with the community and fostering meaningful conversations and connections, and sharing lived experiences of courage, strength, and resilience.
  • Resource Connectors: Connecting community members to a wealth of wellness, behavioral health, and recovery resources within the county.
  • Promoters of Inclusivity & Stigma Reduction: Emphasizing the commitment to promoting inclusivity and equitable access to health care services and resources.

The Pink Patch Event is a profound demonstration of community strength and the crucial role of health ambassadors in creating a healthier, united, and inclusive San Mateo County.  Beyond this event, the BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity, through its Health Ambassadors, remains committed to ensuring the well-being of our diverse community.

To learn more about the county’s Health Ambassador Program and be part of a team dedicated to empowering our community members for a healthier and more equitable future, visit:

Written by Isaiah Cajbon (he/him) and Maria Martinez (she/her), BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity

Housing Heroes Event Honors Community Members and Partners

There were lots of smiles, hugs, and shout-outs at last week’s 16th annual Housing Heroes event! It was a full house at the Redwood Shores Library and Supervisor Warren Slocum said it was the largest crowd there’s ever been! Speakers and recipients discussed the importance of stable housing for maintaining emotional and overall health and emphasized housing as being a cornerstone in the process of recovery. Award recipients included community partners who have shown exceptional leadership in providing and maintaining housing for community members. For many, these efforts were especially significant this past year given the devastating impact of the tragic shootings and winter storms on the coast. We got to hear from community members who expressed gratitude and appreciation for the meaningful, life-changing services and connections that the San Mateo community has provided and fostered. Shoutout to BHRS’s very own Mariana Rocha, Kelsey Dattilo, Lee Harrison and the many others who were involved in making this event a success! 

2023 award recipients:  

  1. Half Moon Bay Landlords: Sydney-Billig Tyler- Parker, Rod Chittenden, David Cresson, Kathy Caloca, Paul Rogerville, Ralph Ely, Paula Bennett, Jim and Cynthya Wilkinson 
  2. Judith Guerrero – Coastside Hope Executive Director 
  3. Marina Hernandez– Client Services Director at Pacifica Resource Center 
  4. Honorable Carole Groom – Housing Leadership Award 
  5. Navigation Center: Including LifeMoves, Human Services Agency, Board of Supervisors and County Executive 
  6. Jeffery Edgerton – Bridges to Wellness Care Navigator 
  7. Corina Rodriguez & Puente Community Development Team 
  8. EverWell Health System – Enhanced Board and Care 

Honoring 2023 Indigenous People’s Day with NIPI

On behalf of the Native and Indigenous Peoples Initiative (NIPI) we express gratitude to be able to represent alongside the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC). On October 9, 2023, we honored and celebrated Indigenous People’s Day at the annual Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz Island, Yelamu, Ohlone territory, respectively. The IITC has organized the annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz Island to recognize the historic Alcatraz Occupation that began November 20, 1969 as a way to acknowledge and support the resistance and survival of the Indigenous Peoples of this land. 2023 marked the 44th Annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day Sunrise Gathering as well as the 5th Annual Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. Both events featured Native and Indigenous performers and speakers as well as local vendors. It was an honor to see so many participants and attendants supporting the event and individual artists.  

Upon sunset the Native and Indigenous Peoples Initiative (NIPI) received an Indigenous Peoples Day Proclamation from the city of Redwood City, CA.

NIPI is supported by San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Office of Diversity and Equity. It is one of the nine Health Equity Initiatives funded by the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). For more info and our meeting schedule, visit

Written by Gloria Gutierrez (she/her), Co-Chair of NIPI

Meet Our Newest ODE Interns!

The County of San Mateo’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity is happy to announce that we have two new interns for this year! Our interns are passionate, driven, and experienced in advancing equity, wellness, and prevention for culturally diverse underserved/unserved populations. Our interns and their respective work areas include: 

Ayanna Wade (She/Her) – Suicide Prevention and Stigma Reduction  

Ayanna comes to us following a year abroad in South Korea and is in her final year at St. Mary’s College of California. Ayanna is pursuing a degree in communications – media, and a minor in East Asian studies. While abroad, she was immersed in a culture opposite that of western culture where she learned to be comfortable with discomfort, navigate language barriers and cross-cultural exposures. She is pleased to work on a team dedicated to creating a difference within the community. Ayanna looks forward to sharing her ideas and gaining more insight into the Office of Diversity and Equity. Ayanna values learning and exploring ways to create betterment and is excited about the direction this internship will take her personally and professionally. A little fun fact about Ayanna is she likes to write poetry during her free time when feeling inspired. 

You can follow Ayanna’s internship journey on her blog site here.

To learn more, click here » Suicide Prevention – San Mateo County Health ( 

Isaiah Cajbon (He/His) – Parent Project & the Health Ambassador Program 

Isaiah comes to us following his graduation from California State University, Fullerton. Isaiah pursued a degree in Psychology where he cultivated a deep passion for understanding human behavior and cognition. Isaiah values collaboration, open communication, and is eager to learn from other professionals. Isaiah comes with strong attention to detail, problem-solving skills, and willingness to embrace new challenges. He aims to make a positive impact where he can contribute his skills and dedication during his internship. A fun fact about Isaiah is that he is also a certified scuba diver.  

To learn more, click here » The Parent Project ® – San Mateo County Health ( and here » Health Ambassador Program – San Mateo County Health ( 

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NAMIWalks Event Recap

Here’s a look at the NAMIWalks event from this past Saturday, October 14, at Seal Point Park! Can you find yourself (or your dog) in the photos 😊? NAMIWalks goal is to promote awareness of mental health and reduce stigma, to build community and let people know they are not alone, and to raise funds for their mission to provide free mental health advocacy, education, and support. We were there to support our communities and had two resource tables: ODE and OCFA! This year’s Walk had over 620 participants and raised $239,725, exceeding the goal by nearly $40,000! Even though the event has passed, you can still donate to NAMI through our BHRS team page and support NAMI’s mission of achieving “Mental Health for All”. Here are three of their suggestions on how to put the “Fun” in Fundraising (complete list attached):

11. Collect loose change! You won’t believe how quickly it can add up. Check your car, purse, etc. Or start filling a 16 oz. water bottle with dimes. When it’s full, you’ve raised $100! 

26. Cookie Tasting: Invite your friends and family to a cookie tasting party where everyone brings their favorite cookie. Charge an entrance fee and provide a prize to the favorite recipe. Serve milk and hot cocoa to complement the treats! 

30. Pet Birthday Party: Similar to a birthday fundraiser for yourself, you can host an online birthday fundraiser for your pet. Or take it up a notch and host an in-person party and ask for donations in lieu of gifts! 

New Resource! Racial Equity, Trauma- Informed Card

Implementing a racial equity, trauma-informed tool is a vital step to realizing our SMC Behavioral Health & Recovery Services goals. It is part of transforming our system & holding our values at our core. To do this we must normalize conversations about race, organize by building capacity and partnering with others, and operationalize by utilizing racial equity tools that are data driven. This lens can be utilized in many of our decision making capacities, including with clients, workforce or community members.

Print out this resource at your work place to create a more racial equity, trauma informed organization.

To learn more about BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity, visit
For other community resources we offer, visit our resource page here.

Be Sensitive, Be Brave Trainings for Filipino/a/x Community

Please join us for two upcoming virtual Be Sensitive, Be Brave Trainings focused towards the Filipino/a/x Community.
– Be Sensitive Be Brave for Suicide Prevention | Thursday, 10/26 from 11AM-12:30PM | Register here
– Be Sensitive Be Brave for Mental Health | Monday, 10/30 from 10AM-12PM | Register here

The Be Sensitive, Be Brave infuses culture and diversity throughout these two free foundational workshops on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention for community members.

Be Sensitive, Be Brave – For Mental Health
The mental health workshop prepares community members to help friends and loved ones during times of distress. Learn how to recognize mental health conditions, what to do when someone needs support, and tools for maintaining good mental health.

Learn how to:

  • Identify if someone is in mental distress
  • Practice being sensitive and brave in helping others
  • Increase awareness of mental health resources
  • Build resilience using a recipe for mental health
  • Build cultural sensitivity around mental health
  • Respond to community needs and decrease stigma
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Be Sensitive, Be Brave – For Suicide Prevention

The suicide prevention workshop teaches community members to act as eyes and ears for suicidal distress and to connect individuals to help.

Learn how to:

  • Identify signs of suicide
  • Ask if someone is considering suicide sensitively and confidently
  • Connect individuals with the appropriate support
  • Approach suicide prevention in a culturally sensitive manner

For more information about Be Sensitive, Be Brave, visit their website here.

Tmrw, 10/17: Latino/a/e Community Assessment Report Back in Redwood City

Please join us Tuesday evening in Redwood City for a light dinner and a sharing of the findings of the Latino/a/e community assessment on mental health and substance abuse in youth and families. The event is tomorrow, Tuesday October 17, from 5:30 – 8pm at the Fair Oaks Community Center at 2600 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, CA. In addition to hearing the responses of the community assessment, you can share your thoughts on our recommendations toward improving resources and support for our families and youth.

This will be our second event sharing the community assessment findings. To ensure we could cover more geography in our diverse community, we wanted to have an event on the coastside as well as Redwood City. The presentation of the data and recommendations will largely be the same as the event at ALAS in Half Moon Bay. We will also be gathering around tables for small group discussion to hear community feedback on what is most useful to prioritize in the Redwood City/North Fair Oaks community.

The event is co-hosted by El Concilio and Nuestra Casa, please reach out to Dr. Ana Avendaño at El Concilio ( or call (650) 402-7995 if you have any questions. The presentation will be in Spanish with English interpretation available. No RSVP is required!

Please see the flyer for more information, and we hope you can join us tomorrow evening.

Únase a nosotros el martes por la tarde en Redwood City para una cena ligera y para compartir los hallazgos de la evaluación de la comunidad latina sobre la salud mental y abuso de sustancias en jóvenes y familias. El evento será mañana, martes, 17 de octubre, de 5:30 pm a 8:00 pm en el Centro Comunitario Fair Oaks, en 2600 Middlefield Road, Redwood City, CA. Además de escuchar las respuestas de la evaluación de la comunidad, puede compartir sus opiniones sobre nuestras recomendaciones para mejorar los recursos y el apoyo a nuestras familias y jóvenes.

Este será nuestro segundo evento en el que compartiremos los resultados de la evaluación comunitaria. Para asegurarnos de que pudiéramos cubrir más geografía en nuestra diversa comunidad, queríamos tener un evento en la costa, además de en Redwood City. La presentación de los datos y las recomendaciones, será en gran parte la misma que en el evento en ALAS en Half Moon Bay. También nos reuniremos alrededor de mesas para conversar en grupos pequeños, para escuchar los comentarios y opiniones de la comunidad sobre qué es más útil priorizar en la comunidad de Redwood City/North Fair Oaks.

El evento es coorganizado por El Concilio y Nuestra Casa; comuníquese con la Dra. Ana Avendaño en El Concilio ( o llame al (650) 402-7995 si tiene alguna pregunta. La presentación será en español con interpretación al inglés disponible. ¡No es necesario confirmar su asistencia!

Consulte el folleto para obtener más información y esperamos que pueda unirse a nosotros mañana por la tarde.

Liven Up Your Virtual Background by Advocating for Your Communities!

Virtual backgrounds are an easy way to spark conversation with others. Spark a conversation about a cause or community you care about at your next virtual meeting with one of BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity’s cultural or mental health related backgrounds!

Backgrounds we are offering include Mental Health Month, Black History Month, National BIPOC Mental Health Month, and more! 

Check out our variety of cultural and mental health related backgrounds here

Youth Leaders Share Mental Health Advice to Parents at “What I Wish My Parents Knew” Forum

In honor of Suicide Prevention Month, BHRS Office of Diversity & Equity’s Chinese Health Initiative partnered with Belmont, Redwood Shore, San Carlos Chinese Community  (BRSCC), and Star Vista’s Health Ambassador Youth Program to host the “What I Wish My Parents Knew” forum on Saturday, September 16, 2023.

The successful forum was led by San Mateo County youths Xin Xin Cai, Anthony Lee, and Anastasia Yang, with over 50 participants of parents, caregivers, and allies. As a way to ensure this forum was accessible to our communities, it was provided in English with Cantonese and Mandarin interpretation.

Youth leaders addressed mental health questions using their lens of the Chinese-American culture and provided insightful advice to parents and mental health clinicians in the audience. They identified the top reasons for not wanting to share about their mental health were stigma and not wanting to worry their parents. One piece of advice offered to address this challenge was for parents and caregivers to talk to teens about their mental health in ways that support teens as independent individuals such as giving them time and space.

To learn more about the Chinese Health Initiative, visit and follow them on Facebook.

Written by Alyson Suzuki, Chinese Health Initiative Co-Chair and Kayla Tolentino, BHRS’ Office of Diversity & Equity

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