Tag Archives: Health Equity Initiative

Happy AAPI Heritage Month: Updates from the Pacific Islander Initiative

PII Co-Chair, Brittany Afu

This year, BHRS ODE’s Health Equity Initiative, Pacific Islander Initiative (PII) welcomes a returning co-chair, Brittany Afu, who is currently working with long-time partner, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. Luci Latu and Brittany have been focusing on rebuilding past partnerships and cultivating new ones to strengthen PII’s membership base.

Some of the initiative’s focus this year has been on COVID outreach – raising awareness around COVID testing, vaccines and linking families to COVID relief programs and services. Other focuses include outreaching for partner events and community classes, sharing information about services and completing community presentations to raise awareness on critical issues affecting the PII community.

Recently, the PII co-chairs presented to a class at UC Berkeley discussing Pacific Islander health disparities and how the initiative and other partnering agencies are developing strategies to address community needs. It is an ongoing effort, and we hope to make community impacts by filling future Parent Project courses, hosting Mental Health First Aid trainings and getting more families connected to needed care.

Blog written by Brittany Afu
Co-Chair of Pacific Islander Initiative of San Mateo County, 


To learn more about Pacific Islander Initiative and other health equity initiatives, visit SMCHealth.org/HEI.

The Health Equity Initiatives are funded through BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity. For more information click here.

To learn more about Pacific Islander Initiative, visit smchealth.org/pacific-islander-initiative.

AACI Black History Month Event | Thank you and Highlights

The African American Community Initiative (AACI) proudly hosted their annual Black History Month Program on Saturday, February 26, 2022. The audience was greeted with a musical interlude by The Glide Ensemble singing “Say Their Names” chanting “Black lives matter- we matter.” This poignant song was followed by Dana Johnson (they/them), Pride Initiative Co-Chair, honoring our ancestors by reciting the Sankofa African Ancestral acknowledgement. Lee Harrison (he/him), AACI Co-Chair, gave an introduction to the national theme for Black History Month: Black Health and Wellness.

Doctoral student from Palo Alto University and AACI intern, Chika Ofodu (she/they) gave a well received presentation on Healing Centered Engagement (HEC), a framework for engaging with youth of color that embraces a holistic and strength- based approach to trauma that involves culture, spirituality, civic action, and collective healing.

Dr. Kim Rhoads (she/her) told us that the highest rate of COVID infection and deaths are still occurring in Black and Latino communities. Social determinants drive these disparities that are common among all other diseases. Although the total numbers of people with COVID has declined, Dr Rhoads emphasised that Black and Brown communites need to continue to follow precautionary guidelines to reduce our high infection rates:

  • Masking matters: It is most important to block the aerosol spread from the mouth and nose.
  • Protect yourself by getting vaccinated despite community conspiracy theories to the contrary.
  • Omicron is a variant of COVID, there will likely be new variants.

We must act accordingly to protect ourselves from this airborne disease.

Lastly, a cultural cooking demonstration of a Healthy Gumbo recipe was offered by Chef Opal of Daly City. Through-out the event there were presentation polls and raffles. A Black History Trivia Game and raffle ended the day on a high note. All event raffles were funded by the SMC BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity.

Written by Pamela Ward (she/her), African American Community Initiative Co-Chair

March 31: Filipinx Kwentuhan: Equity through Art Webinar

When: March 31st 6pm-7pm

Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEsce2hrD4vGNcPA4inP9HQmIqwFfTt-0_F

Description: Every culture has a storytelling tradition. In the Filipinx diaspora, kwentuhan (storytelling) is a way of remembering and honoring ancestors, preserving histories, and reconnecting with kapwa. It has also provided a path to resisting invisibility. From the time the first Filipinos landed in California in 1587 to the time they began settling in San Mateo County in the 1920s, storytelling has always been part of the fabric of the community’s lived experience. Equity Through Art Series’ “Filipinx Kwentuhan” will feature unique stories of resilience, healing and bayanihan in the Filipinx community in San Mateo County. The webinar panel will be moderated by Aileen Cassinetto, San Mateo County Poet Laureate, and feature Matthew Abaya, Filmmaker; Stephanie Balon, Co-Chair of the SMC BHRS Filipino Mental Health Initiative; Joanne Boston, events producer with a focus on community art and culture; Carly Burton, Jefferson High school Student and filmmaker; and Rosie Tejada, President of the Jefferson Union High School District Board of Trustees.

As we, in San Mateo County, reckon with racial inequities, it’s critical to understand the history that got us to where we are today. The Equity through Art Series, a partnership between the County Library, BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity, and the Chief Equity Officer at the County of San Mateo, takes us on a journey to understand the experiences of Black, Indigenous, Communities of Color, through their voices and stories. For the full series, visit: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuc5tf7EL6P7G4UatPRBuPqQ0LmP1PHNa. Please join us for Filipinx Kwentuhan Webinar on March 31st from 6-7pm.

February 26: AACI’s Black History Month Event

The African American Community Initiative (AACI) Health Equity Initiative of San Mateo County BHRS’ Office of Diversity and Equity is hosting its Black History Month celebration on February 26, 2022 from 10am to 12pm as an online Zoom event.

Please register for this free event here.

Join the Diversity and Equity Council!

The Diversity and Equity Council (DEC) works to ensure that topics concerning diversity, health disparities, stigma reduction, and health equity are reflected in the work of San Mateo County’s mental health and substance use services. The DEC is open to BHRS staff, contracted providers, community members, and encourages participation of consumers/clients/family members by providing stipends or honorariums for ongoing participation.  

Over the past year, the DEC in collaboration with community partners hosted a series of Town Halls on Race & COVID-19 to share county efforts and hear from community voices about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This information was used to identify priorities and it was shared to inform the County’s larger recovery plan. Starting in 2022 the DEC will be focusing on implementing a strategic plan that supports continued collaboration with BHRS​, Health Equity Initiatives, Community-Based Organizations, and the community at large.  

We invite you to join us! The DEC meets virtually every first Friday of the month from 11-12:30pm. For meeting details and more information please contact DEC Co-chairs Brenda Nuñez at brenda.nunez@star-vista.org or Frances Lobos at flobos@smcgov.org.

Writen by Frances Lobos & Brenda Nuñez, DEC Co-Chairs

10/5 – 5th Annual Interfaith National Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health and Understanding

Each year during the first week of October the nation celebrates the Interfaith National Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health and Understanding. This day is designed to bring together mental health and substance abuse networks and faith leaders together so that they may recognize the importance of behavioral health issues in our community.

On Tuesday, Oct 5, Nami of San Mateo County, Office of Diversity and Equity‘s Spirituality Initiative, San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, and numerous faith leaders will virtually host our county’s 5th National Interfaith Day of Prayer for Behavioral Health and Understanding.

Register at smcgov.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwrdu-urD0vGtRZWB_91CngrBY0OjXsJm-M

We invite consumers, faith base community, providers, and community to attend this event.

For more info contact Melinda Ricossa at MRicossa@smcgov.org or Isaac Frederick at ifrederick@smcgov.org

Burlingame High School studentS’ short Film Sends message of Hope

In September 2020, the Directing Change Program launched a Hope & Justice category as an opportunity for youth to express their feelings and to inspire others through art. Submissions around “Hope” focus on sharing personal stories about what gives us hope during these challenging times and how we practice self-care. The “Justice” option asks youth to share a personal experience with discrimination or injustice that allows others to feel empathy, or entries can educate others about bias and encourage youth to take a stand against injustice when they see it.

Filmmakers Ryan Kang and Keunho Kim, students from Burlingame High School placed 1st in the Hope & Justice category with their film “Quarantined Hope”. Kang shared,

“Our short film is meant to inspire hope by documenting how writing poetry has given me a sense of hope during this pandemic. Mainly, it focuses on how poetry acts as an escape from all the stress and gloom of the current state of the world. The message is not specifically about poetry, but finding something or someone that can help cope with difficult emotions.”

The film’s message of inspiring hope aligns with this year’s Mental Health Month statewide theme #HopeForChange. The theme reminds us that while change is not always planned and can often be uncomfortable, it’s important to remind ourselves and others to spread and rely on the hope that carried us through a year of change. In honor of Mental Health Month, San Mateo County is hosting free virtual events throughout the month. For more information on the events, visit SMCHealth.org/MHM.

Along with Mental Health Month, May is Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. Uplift APA voices throughout the month of May and share creations by the APA community like this short film! For ways to support San Mateo County’s APA community, visit SMCHealth.org/HEI to learn about our various Health Equity Initiatives.

To learn more about Directing Change, visit: www.DirectingChangeCA.org  

4th Community & COVID Town Hall

On behalf of the collaborators that brought you the “Race & COVID-19” Town Hall series in 2020, we’d like to invite you to our 4th Town Hall: “Community & Coronavirus: a year later” that will take place on Thursday, April 29th at 3pm. Together we’ve experienced so much in the past year, this event will be dedicated to acknowledging our collective challenges, growth and experiences. We will ask for your input on what supports are still needed and what are the priorities of our communities as we continue to respond to the pandemic.

As a result to the feedback we received during the previous Town Halls, Digital literacy trainings, resource guides, and needs assessments for some of our marginalized groups have been conducted and made available to communities throughout San Mateo County.

Join us to get an update on San Mateo County efforts and to hear from your fellow community members and leaders as we continue to work toward healing and recovery.

Please share this information widely, we look forward to a great dialogue.

REGISTRATION LINK

2/20- 29th Annual Black History Month Virtual Celebration

You are invited to the 29th Annual Black History Month Celebration! This event is being hosted by our African American Community Initiative in partnership with the City of Daly. This 2-hour event will be hosted virtually on Saturday February 20th at 10:30

To register click here.


For more details and registration information please see attached pdf flyer below

Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government

According to The White House, the new executive order explicitly aims to advance racial equity in the federal government, eliminates restrictions on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion(DEI) training, and disbands the 1776 Commission. It also establishes a Domestic Policy Council to explore opportunities for centering equity in federal work and charges the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with establishing best practices for equity measurement.

President Biden states in his order,

“It is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.  Affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our Government.”

For the full executive order, read here.

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