Unmasking Mental Health

  Unmasking Mental Health  
On Sunday, April 22 from 6:00-800pm, members of the community are invited to an evening of discussion focused on youth and mental health.T he evening will involve a screening of the short film, Unmasked produced by students of Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School which is a fictionalized account of a young person and a community struggling with the issue of suicide. A panel of experts representing youth, parents and professionals from the nonprofit, clinical, and academic worlds will follow this up by answering questions on the general topic of mental health as it effects youth with an emphasis on how to recognize the signs of mental illness and how to respond.  The night will end with a resource fair where attendees can have further discussion with panelists as well as other organizations that will be present. 

6:00 pm: Screening of "Unmasked" a documentary made by Palo Alto teens about this area's mental health and sucide epidemic
6:45 pm: Panel discussion with local mental health experts from NAMI, Safespace, StarVista, and the school board
7:45 pm: Open community fair of local mental health resources


More About Our Speakers

Lesley Martin, SafeSpace

Lesley started as a volunteer developing the SafeSpace Youth Advisory Board, then moved to a position on the Board of Directors, and is now the Managing Director of SafeSpace. She brings years of experience in the education field. She has served as a Middle School Principal at Tierra Linda Middle School in San Carlos, California, and at Taylor Middle School in Millbrae, California. She has worked as a teacher at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park, California, Summit Charter School in East San Jose, and as a Principal Leadership Coach in San Jose and East San Jose schools. During her tenure, both the Taylor Middle School and Tierra Linda Middle School received California Distinguished School Awards. The Taylor Middle School was featured in the documentary film Bully for it’s anti-bullying efforts. She has also been a play therapist at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Beyond her career in education, Dr. Martin is deeply involved in children’s welfare on the peninsula as a Board member and Board Chair at StarVista. She holds a Master of Science in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and a Ed..D., in Education Leadership from Mills College.”

Islam Hassanein, StarVista

Islam Hassanein works as a Program Manager and the Mental Health Clinician at the Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention Center, one of the many programs of StarVista - a non-profit mental health agency in San Mateo County. In this role, Islam oversees all aspects of the crisis center and also provides free therapy to students in San Mateo County who have undergone a crisis, such as suicidal crisis. She also helps provide outreach support by presenting to students and adults around a varying degree of topics around mental health, such as mental wellness, suicide prevention, and student stress. Islam also helps train teen and adult volunteers for San Mateo County's Crisis Hotline. Islam earned her Master’s of Science in Clinical Psychology/Marriage and Family Therapy from Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU). Islam also sees clients in private practice in San Carlos. Outside of her work, Islam enjoys spending time with her friends and family, loves to cook, and finds joy being in nature."

Erik Burmeister, Superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District

Erik Burmeister is the Superintendent of the Menlo Park City School District, after having served as the district’s Assistant Superintendent and Principal of the district's Hillview Middle School, a model 21st Century School and 2015 California Gold Ribbon School. In partnership with the Stanford Design School, Erik has become an expert in applying design and innovation to solve a variety of education challenges including closing the achievement gap, school redesign, technology implementation, Rtl2, and Asset Development. Erik was named Middle Grades Principal of the Year for the Association of California School Administrators and one of the three finalists for the NASSP National Middle Grades Principal in 2014.  Erik was also selected as the 2012 Multiplier of the Year in Education by the Wiseman Group.  As a thought leader in the field of design and education, Erik leads design workshops and independent consultations, is writing a forthcoming book on design mindsets in education, and has co-founded The SchoolFWD Foundation with a mission to bring design solutions to leaders ready to make lasting change in their schools and districts. Erik also regularly conducts parent education workshops on raising preteens and teens in an increasingly challenging world. A member of Trinity Church, he lives in Menlo Park with his wife, a high school teacher, and two young sons; he has an adopted adult son who is a police officer in Peru.”

Patricia Way, NAMI

Patricia Way is a parent of someone with serious mental illness who initially became ill as a teenager, but wasn’t properly diagnosed until his mid 20’s.  Because she and her husband were determined to educate themselves as thoroughly as possible on Mental Illness, they completed the NAMI Family to Family Education course and realized there was much work to be done to help others while helping their own family.  Pat quickly became involved by joining the NAMI San Mateo County Board of Directors (and her husband followed soon after).  Over the years of involvement with NAMI SMC, Pat served as Board President and was able to help bring several other NAMI National education courses to San Mateo County, including the NAMI Provider Education Course and The Parents and Teachers as Allies In-service course.  Pat continues her work with NAMI SMC by Facilitating a NAMI Support Group and serving on the NAMI Advisory Board.  Most recently she has served as Chairperson of the San Mateo County Mental Health and Substance Recovery Commission.  This commission is mandated by state law to advocate for persons with serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders and to provide advice to the County Board of Supervisors and the Behavioral Health Director."

Nadia Ghaffari, Moderator

Nadia Ghaffari is a senior at Los Altos High School with a passion for youth mental health advocacy. In spring-2016, she founded the 501c3 nonprofit 
TeenzTalk after her own experience with aiding in the prevention of her close friend's suicide. TeenzTalk empowers youth voice, focusing on education and open conversation to fight the stigma around mental health. She also spearheaded TeenzTalk's first-annual Teen Wellness Conference in Sep. 2017 at Microsoft-SV, bringing together 220 youth from 88 schools and 15 counties in CA. Nadia most enjoys meeting people and hearing their stories; she aims to study psychology and political science in college."

Our Community Partners


We’re all about you — youth aged 12 to 26. We share the same goals. To help you thrive and emotionally connect with your family, friends, and life. That’s why we’re approaching mental health challenges in a whole new way. No judgment. No stigma. Just help and support you can trust. We’re developing youth-inspired-and-created centers in your community, programs that provide early access to support services, awareness of mental health challenges and greater community engagement, including school programs. SafeSpace Menlo Park Center is comprised of the following three locations. 708 Oak Grove Ave is our Community Engagement Center. 1162 and 1166 El Camino Real offer clinical services through our affiliate partner BACA.


StarVista transforms the lives of children, young people, families, and the communities they live in. We work with people in need across San Mateo County, helping them to create positive and long-lasting changes. These programs offer nurturing environments where children can learn and explore


NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health. Today, we are an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.