Kaiser Permanente Awards $2 Million To Reduce Stigma Around Mental Illness

South San Francisco, CA   May 24, 2018  Submitted by Joe Fragola, Kaiser Permanente 

Community groups in North San Mateo County and San Francisco are among the  grant recipients in Northern California


Kaiser Permanente announced a $2 million investment to support community organizations in their work to reduce the stigma around mental illness. Twenty-five Northern California organizations were awarded community health grants, including school districts, youth and family services and community coalitions that bring together a variety of stakeholders and agencies to serve people that historically shy away from getting mental health services.


“Stigma is influenced by our cultural belief systems and it impacts our decisions to seek care, even in times of crisis,” said Yener Balan, MD, FAPA, executive director of behavioral health for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. “Kaiser Permanente believes that a person’s culture should be at the center of their health care experience, not a barrier to getting the care they need.”


The $2 million anti-stigma investment will support community organizations in developing trainings, public forums and awareness campaigns that are customized for specific populations. This is the first part of a three-year initiative.


Among the 25 organizations receiving grants, five located in South San Francisco, Daly City, and San Francisco:


  • Boys & Girls Clubs of North San Mateo, South San Francisco
  • Daly City Youth Health Center, Daly City
  • Instituto Familiar de la Raza (to support the Chicano, Latino/Indigena Health Equity Coalition), San Francisco
  • Rafiki Coalition for Health and Wellness (to support the African American Community Health Equity Council), San Francisco
  • Richmond Area Multi-Services (to support the Asian Pacific Islander Health Parity Coalition), San Francisco


“We are excited to be part of a collaborative effort to address mental health” said Aubrey Merriman, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County.  “This is an important opportunity to confront mental health stigma, as well as to educate students on mental health options, and create innovative pathways to overall health.”


Yvette Radford, vice president of external and community affairs for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said that addressing stigma is a major priority for Kaiser Permanente, and that the investments are designed to complement the Find Your Words campaign the organization launched in 2016 with partners including the National Alliance on Mental IllnessNational Suicide Prevention LifelineCrisis Text Line and Mental Health America.


“We hope to reach as many people as possible with these efforts,” said Radford. “Equally important to us is discovering innovative approaches for dispelling the mental illness myths and misunderstandings that keep people from reaching their best overall health.”


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