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Our YSB Partnership with Pacificans Care

Mental health is not a luxury. We can’t afford to look at it as a luxury. We have to look at how it’s baked into every single piece of what a person experiences, and how that affects how they’re able to learn, how they’re able to be at work, how they’re able to be in community. That’s why I really believe what we’re doing is necessary because we’re bringing that piece back [to the] front and center into what’s happening to [our] communities.” -Dr. Deidra Somerville, Executive Director of the YMCA of Greater San Francisco’s Mental Health branch

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this year, we want to uplift the work and programs of our Mental Health branch, the first branch of its kind in the nation for the YMCA. Beyond San Francisco, our branch serves San Mateo County, providing different forms of assistance in San Bruno, Brisbane, South San Francisco, and Pacifica. With this, our Marketing and Communications team recently met with Executive Director of Mental Health branch, Dr. Deidra Somerville, Associate Director of Intake and Trainee Programs, Adriana Juarez Arteaga, and Christine Stahl, President of Pacificans Care, to learn more about the long-standing partnership between our Pacifica Youth Bureau Services (PYSB) clinic and Pacificans Care, and how they are working together to support our communities as PYSB prepares for its reopening.

History and Partnership

“It is an opportunity for me to learn more about each of the programs and dive in deeper... and have a greater understanding of how Pacificans Care can continue the legacy of our relationship.” -Christine Stahl, President of Pacificans Care

The Youth Bureau Services (YSB) was created in the 1960s by the Pacifica Police Department in conjunction with the San Mateo County Probation Department to divert youth from the juvenile justice system for non-criminal behavior. Funded by the City of Pacifica and San Mateo County, the program was the first of its kind with the police department and schools working in cooperation to divert juvenile offenders and their families to counseling services which became a model for similar programs established in other cities in the Peninsula and the state of California. However, due to budget issues, the city and school district decreased its financial support, prompting Pacifica YSB to transition into an agency operated by the YMCA of Greater San Francisco, along with South San Francisco and San Mateo’s YSB clinics.

Then, in 1982, Pacificans Care was established by a small but dedicated group of citizens who came together to bring forth a volunteer and community-based nonprofit organization that was created to support core social service organizations such as PYSB, supporting its programs with annual grants since 1987 when YSB received $2K. To date, Pacificans Care has given $297K to continue supporting the counseling services, clinic maintenance, and needs of youth and families.

Challenges and Changes

“We really try to strive to work within our agency and look at any of those biases or lived experiences or behaviors that were learned through our families and ask, ‘how can we dismantle that?’ Because we’re supporting different communities and if we don’t know the way we’re portraying ourselves to our clients, how is that going to be of support to them to really help them with whatever struggles they’re going through?” -Adriana Juarez Arteaga, Associate Director of Intake and Trainee Programs, Pacifica Youth Services Bureau

Despite its growth, there have been a few challenges that PYSB and its community have faced. Outside of budget issues, the program model that helped create PYSB unfortunately dissolved for the time being due to some parents’ concerns with police presence. Yet, there has been a positive movement through juvenile justice reform that has given police the training and tools to assess and not misdiagnose a mental health concern. This has allowed PYSB’s relationship with the police department to evolve in ways that otherwise would not be possible, especially with the support of Pacificans Care that has helped broker the conversation between the clinic, schools, and police to rebuild the relationship and potentially a new program that would help youth and their families, and the community.

Meanwhile, in the last five years, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the community by exacerbating the conditions that heavily impacted housing, education, jobs, and beyond. From youth being unable to graduate to seeing job and housing loss to the inflation of basic needs, Pacificans Care and PYSB see how mental health is at the center of all these challenges and understand how important it is to continue learning more about the obstacles and barriers the community is met with to best provide the necessary resources and programs that can help people move forward.

Making Connections

“The people I’ve met from Pacificans Care have taken what access [they] have to community resources and made sure they’re redistributed wherever they’re needed... It’s really an honor to have an opportunity for us to have this be something we all feel good about.” -Dr. Deidra Somerville 

With the reopening of the clinic on its way, both Pacificans Care and PYSB are excited to continue building this great connection through their partnership. With the proactive and engaging support from Pacificans Care, PYSB is ready to bring more awareness to mental health and continue leading with a cultural humility lens so that we can ensure that our San Mateo communities can build an equitable and sustainable future for generations

To learn more about our Youth Services Bureau clinics or Mental Health branch, visit or