Engage San Francisco’s Mind, Body and Soul

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Dr. Lisa De La Rue is an Assistant Professor in the Counseling Psychology Department, where she also serves as the fieldwork coordinator for the Marriage and Family Therapy program.

Eat fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. We are all familiar with the common pieces of advice to promote wellness, and to fight off physical diseases. If we actually follow that advice … well that is another question. But what can you do to prevent depression? How do you cope with difficult life experiences? How do you manage symptoms of anxiety? Fewer people would have ideas on how to address these needs, despite the reality that millions of adults and children experience mental illness in a given year. Many cannot answer this question because we largely keep conversations about mental illness in the shadows, where it takes on a certain taboo, a stigma that we do not see when talking about physical ailments. As a result many people do not know what to do when they or someone they love is suffering from mental health concerns, let alone know where to access services.  

As a psychologist, and a professor who works to train the next generation of clinicians, I am constantly thinking about how to raise awareness of mental health and to increase knowledge around how to access support services. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a given year, and 1 in 25 adults will experience a serious mental illness that will interfere with their ability to engage in one or more life activities (e.g. work, being with friends or family, going to school). Additionally, 1 in 5 young people between the ages of 13 and 18 will experience a severe mental illness within a given year. Despite these numbers, too many people do not receive the treatment or support they need to get better, and just like with a physical disease, untreated mental health concerns can get worse.  

We know that one of the barriers to people receiving the support they need is a result of the stigma associated with mental illness. Name-calling, derogatory terms, and dramatized negative portrayals of people with mental illness all contribute to an atmosphere where people may be reluctant to share their struggles or to seek out support. Part of addressing this stigma is to increase awareness of mental health and illness. Another barrier to addressing mental health concerns is a lack of awareness around where to access services. Some people may not realize that mental health treatment can address the symptoms they are experiencing. For others, they may know treatment is needed but do not know where to look for these services.

Addressing these barriers is an essential component of ensuring people with mental health concerns get the support they need and have the opportunity to live healthier and happier lives. The Mind, Body and Soul Pop-Ups provide an example of how to address these exact barriers.  

Engage San Francisco’s Mind, Body, and Soul Pop-Ups  are community based resource fairs that bring together service providers from across the Western Addition. These Pop-Ups provide community members with information on services available in their community, and educational materials on how to promote physical, mental and spiritual wellness. Spaces like these provide a wonderful avenue in which to increase awareness of mental health and treatment, in manner that feels safer. For example, someone can come in to gather information on nutrition, and then casually wonder to the next table where information is being provided about depression.  Not only does this format increase the number of people who are provided with information, but can also allows those who may feel stigmatized to gather information in a manner that is less overwhelming. Having conversations about mental illness, and wellness, alongside conversations about managing diabetes helps reduce stigma around mental health treatment and places it in the realm of diseases that can be treated. And indeed this is the realm in which it belongs.

As we continue to have conversations about mental wellness in the Western Addition, the hope is that some of the stigma around mental illness will be reduced. This can allow more people to feel comfortable seeking out support, which can help prevent a mental illness from getting worse. However, reducing stigma is just one part of the puzzle; people also need to know where they can access treatment. Events like the Mind, Body, and Soul Pop-Ups and efforts like the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s program Black to the Future are wonderful examples of how to raise awareness of services that are available, and to encourage people to access these programs.

Mental illness is a disease that does not discriminate. It knows no age limits, and impacts people across racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. It is also a disease that often responds well to treatment and interventions. As such, community engaged efforts are essential to ensure that people can access the mental support services they need, and do not feel shame in doing so. 

The next Mind, Body and Soul event is on June 29th! Check out photos from February’s Mind, Body and Soul event here.

New MA in Urban and Public Affairs Program Combines for a Winning Formula

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This spring the Leo T. McCarthy Center announced that it will be combining two former programs: the Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and the Master of Public Affairs into one robust program, the MA in Urban and Public Affairs (UPA). Professor Rachel Brahinsky, program director of UPA, has been apart of the process since its inception.  In a recent USF News story, Professor Brahinsky speaks to the unique features of the program and the excitement of bringing the best of the two former programs together.  Read the full  story here.

April 15th is the priority date to apply to the USF’s MA in Urban and Public Affairs for fall 2017.  Applications received by this Saturday will receive priority consideration for admission and scholarships.

You can apply to the UPA program online. For questions about the application process, financial aid, or other topics about admission, please contact us at upa@usfca.edu or at 415-422-5683.  We wish you the best as you consider the University of San Francisco in your educational and professional goals!

Playing the Blues in a Deeply Red State

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Corey Cook

Corey Cook, Professor of Politics is currently on leave but is still a critical observer of local, state and national politics. Professor Cook regularly contributes to the Leo T. McCarthy Center blog while he establishes the School of Public Service at Boise State University.

 

Idaho was one of a handful of states that rejected both major party candidates during the nomination process. Both Secretary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were dealt decisive defeats during the Idaho Democratic Caucus, and Idaho Republican Primary, respectively. Sure, turnout was low in both contests, but neither was particularly close. Trump received 28% in the primary, losing to Ted Cruz and finishing ahead of only John Kasich and a rapidly sinking Marco Rubio who withdrew his candidacy a week later.  Secretary Clinton fared even more poorly, scoring only 21% of caucus goes against Bernie Sanders’ 78%.

So suffice it tounnamedsay that folks in Idaho don’t seem too jazzed about next week’s election. At Boise State University, we’ve held debate watch events, hosted panels, and generally talked a lot about the election. But the more I talk with folks the more I get the sense that neither outcome will be particularly appealing to Idahoans. One prominent state Republican confided about the challenge this election has posed to mainstream conservatives – that neither candidate represents his values. Still, nobody expects the race in Idaho to be particularly close – in fact, the word on the street is that the results here will be quite similar to those in 2008 and 2012.

I’m still getting up to speed on Idaho politics, but it seems to me to be a mix of Alaska and Utah. Yet this race is playing out quite differently than in those comparable states. As in Idaho, both Clinton and Trump were defeated by Sanders and Cruz in the Alaska caucuses (Trump lost narrowly while Clinton was defeated by a similar 4-1 margin). And prominent Alaska Republicans, including both United States Senators, have withdrawn their support of Trump. Yet recent polls suggest that the candidates are neck and neck. The most recent survey has Secretary Clinton in the lead. The last time Alaska voted for a Democrat for president? 1964.

In Utah, something similarly remarkable, yet quite different, is happening. As in Idaho, Trump and Clinton lost their respective caucuses. Only in this case, Trump came in third (and last) behind Cruz and Kasich while Sanders defeated Clinton by a 4-1 margin. But in Utah, where Democrats seem willing to line up behind their nominee, opposition to Trump has fueled the independent candidacy of little/un- known Congressional staffer Evan McMullin into a highly competitive position. Some recent surveys have the three candidates locked into a dead heat. Trump is wildly unpopular (a recent survey had him at a net negative favorability of -43 points, an astonishing figure). And McMullin has gained some positive attention and has an outside chance to win the state. The last time a Democrat won in Utah? 1964. The last time a minor candidate had a chance of winning? Maybe never.

This has been one of the interesting themes of this election. As Democrats and Republicans grapple with wildly and historically unpopular nominees, traditional voting patterns have been disrupted. And down ballot races might be affected in ways that won’t be clear until after the election.

And yet Idaho, despite its similarities to Alaska and Utah, seems ready to reprise its previous vote tallies. Alternative candidates have failed to gain traction and despite the clear unpopularity of the two nominees, fellow partisans seem to have fallen into line.

Despite polls showing the race getting closer as election day nears, the potential for a generational partisan realignment remain significant. Just focusing on the traditional red state, consider some political implications. If Secretary Clinton wins, what will happen in Alaska, Utah, and Idaho to the growing gulf between mainstream conservatives and Trump voters? Will they coalesce as in Idaho, disintegrate into competing blocs as in Utah, or weaken allegiance to the party as in Alaska? And if Trump wins, how will governance change in those places? Will mainstream conservatives holding Senatorial seats and Governor’s mansions work effectively with the Trump White House, or will these splits emerge between the states and federal government?

For the next week, a lot of attention will be paid to who will win or lose the election. Sadly, far less attention will be paid to the important foreign and domestic policy implications of those outcomes. But while the elections are typically conceived as finish lines, they are more akin to water stations along a marathon route. The potential disruption of long term voting patterns and reshaping of partisan coalitions instigated during this election and that could gradually evolve over the next several electoral cycles, might be the most enduring aspect of this election.

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For more on Corey’s thoughts follow him on twitter @CoreyCookBoise

 

 

Resiliency – as an Act of Political Welfare

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 Nolizwe Nondabula, Youth Health Alliance Program Coordinator

   Engage San Francisco, USF Campus-Community Partnership

 

Reflecting back on my journey with USF’s Master of Arts in Urban Affairs program, I definitely did not see myself continuing a relationship with the Leo T. McCarthy Center after graduation in Spring of this year. My first year in the program was a critical time as the Movement for Black Lives gained momentum and the conversation between police and state violence on Black people made national headlines. My focus as a graduate student was on racial justice, which meant taking classes with an emphasis on racial policies, interning at Race Forward, and working with the Brown Boi Project and PolicyLink.

When I wasn’t in the classroom or in the office, I was on the bus to Ferguson, waking up Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf, and shutting down the Bay Bridge. I was angry and determined to interrupt business as usual until folks knew that all Black Lives Matter.
And while my body told me to slow down, I refused to listen. The urgency I felt from the movement told me to find a way to balance my activism life with my academic life. And though I carried the magic of my ancestors, I soon realized that I also carried the weight of those that came before me.

As I began my last year of grad school, I burned out…hard. My anxiety was at an all-time high, I was tired of being tired, and the desensitization of Black death made it harder for me to attend class, go to work, or get out of bed.

Through the guidance and support of my tribe, I made appointments to see my therapist (and stuck with it) and I thus began to unpack my personal journey around mental health and trauma. This journey is not easy but as a Black Queer Woman living in the United States, it’s necessary. Said best by Audre Lorde, womanist, writer and civil activist,  “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political welfare.”

I believe that we will win this fight for equality, but we need the presence of everyone in the movement to do so. So what happens if, as another tactic, we focus on the resiliency of our communities? Both individually and collectively? In pursuit of my own healing, I’ve recognized my need to lean into the discomfort and stigmatization around trauma so that I can plant my seeds of affirmations and self-love.

So when I was told about the position of the Youth Health Alliance Program Coordinator as part of USF’s Engage San Francisco Campus-Community Partnership, I felt like I was planting another seed towards this continuous journey. Engage San Francisco is very hyper-local in its focus and is asset-based in its philosophy so I have had the privilege of witnessing community magic bask from within, while building relationships with different stakeholders. I’m honored to be a part of spaces where the collective passion and eagerness serves as the foundation to produce community-identified goals in the Western Addition.Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.23.12 AM.png

Within my position, my focus is on the emotional well-being of Western Addition youth. I work closely with Western Addition service providers, community members, city agencies and USF staff and faculty in crafting a shared vision of behavioral health. Last week, Engage San Francisco, in partnership with Rhonda Magee, USF Professor of Law with a Social Justice focus, started a 7-week course on Mindfulness and Compassion Based Skills for Stress Management. Classes are free and open to Western Service Providers and community members. And if the amount of vulnerability I’ve already seen is any indication of what’s to come, then I can only imagine how transformative this course will be for those enrolled.

I’m grateful to be a part of the conversation on youth wellness in the Western Addition. I look forward to learning from existing community partnerships while holding on to the fact that we are our ancestor’s wildest dreams. Because, in the end, we are the ones that we’ve been waiting for.

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Bringing #Disruption in Political Communication to USF

One of the many things that draws students to our graduate programs in Public and Urban Affairs is our location in the vibrant and diverse San Francisco community. We pride ourselves on giving our students myriad opportunities to put what they are learning in the classroom to use in their “backyard” here in the Bay Area.   We are often lucky enough to have local political figures, from supervisors to city planners, take part in a class or open up their organizations to give our students an insider’s view of the complex, inner workings of the city.

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Professor Ken Goldstein

One such opportunity is the American Political Science Association’s annual conference, where our Master of Public Affairs program is proud to co-sponsor a day-long pre-conference workshop, led by Professor Ken Goldstein, on Wednesday, September 2nd.

Entitled, “#Disruption: Political Communication in a Digital Age,” the program will feature eight (8) panels showcasing the work of more than fifty (50) political communication scholars in addition to an Author-Meets-Critics Roundtable featuring Jennifer Stromer-Galley’s new book, “Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age.”

The year’s conference focuses on the challenges of measuring and understanding politics in today’s rapidly changing media environment. These disruptions challenge our paradigms and encourage new analytical modes, while reinvigorating questions about the politics of persuasion.  The pre-conference is an opportunity to discuss the intersection of information technology and political communication in a city so heavily intertwined with the heart of tech: Silicon Valley.

I’m thrilled that our students have the opportunity to engage with scholars at the forefront of their fields. It’s something that makes our programs unique and helps us educate leaders who will create positive, lasting change in their communities. I hope you’ll join us on September 2 for this exciting event. It’s just one of the many ways we benefit from being in the Best City Ever.

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Service-Learning Directors from West Coast Catholic Universities come together for 3rd Annual Examen Gathering

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Star Moore
Director of Community-Engaged Learning

On February 8, 2015, I boarded a flight with Associate Dean (soon to be Vice Provost) Shirley McGuire to the Pacific Northwest for a two-day Examen retreat at Seattle University. The Examen group was created as an attempt to strengthen informal but vital relationships between colleagues doing community-engaged work at similar institutions. This was the third annual gathering of service-learning directors from Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara University, Seattle University, St. Mary’s College of California, University of San Diego, and University of San Francisco. The beauty of this gathering lies in its focus on connecting peers from across institutions; integrating a “guest ally” from each institution to learn more about our field, reflecting on common successes and challenges inherent in our work; sharing insights and resources to enhance our practice, and revitalizing our unique commitments to community engagement as a vocation and calling.

This year’s gathering included an opening and closing Examen (a technique of prayerful reflection through which we can discern God’s presence in our lived experiences), a walk through a labyrinth at an historic local church, a “shop talk” on assessment of student learning and community impact, and several shared meals. It was especially wonderful to share the experience with Shirley, who is a dedicated champion of the work of the McCarthy Center and a kindred spirit with regard to our mutual passion for “Assessment.”

I always leave this gathering feeling renewed, inspired, and equipped with a few new resources to integrate into my work. I also leave feeling a deep kinship with the other participants, and often call upon them throughout the year for advice and support. At the end of this particular retreat, each participant was invited to select a clay heart with a word written on it as a reminder of the feelings elicited during our shared experience. I selected the heart with the word “gratitude” to help me evoke this feeling both in times of trial and triumph. I’ve already found myself picking up the heart from the top of my desk and turning it over in my hand several times since our gathering a few weeks ago. It really does seem to have talismanic powers. As I hold the heart, I hold abiding gratitude for all the ways the work of community—engagement fulfills and challenges me.

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