Kimmera Wilson, Outreach and Education Coordinator for San Francisco Suicide Prevention, is a San Francisco native whose smile grows even wider when she gets to talk about her work. Kimmera joined SFSP’s dedicated and hardworking staff in January 2020.
”I was on a search for work that I could be passionate about,” Kimmera said. “A lot of my undergrad and graduate studies ended up revolving around learning about suicide, specifically within the black community. I didn’t necessarily want to be a therapist or a counselor but wanted work dealing directly with people.”
Having earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in behavioral health from the University of San Francisco, made Kimmera an even more perfect fit for the job. As the outreach and education coordinator, she raises awareness about suicide and provides training in crisis intervention and de-escalation to businesses, schools, hospitals, mental health agencies and community centers.
“There was just a lot of questions around, and within the community about suicide or depression and whether it’s something that affects us. As a black woman, I’ve always understood how black people express different racial trauma. We’re completely making a shift right now, and I’ve always been geared towards understanding depression and suicide among my community. We’re starting to reach out to areas with the larger black population, such as Bayview area, Hunters Point, to increase engagement and do some training with them.”
Kimmera recently joined the diversity board for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). As part of the subcommittee focusing on black mental health, Kimmera networks and shares expertise on improving equitable access to mental health services for people of color.
Working at SFSP can be emotionally demanding, Kimmera admits, but the program staff and volunteers act like one happy family supporting each other. She says, “Every day of working the hotlines, you need space to take care of yourself. You need general empathy, compassion, and desire to help others, but I think another thing is that you have to have some self-awareness to check in on yourself as well.”
Kimmera’s favorite quote is from Charlie Chaplin: “Nothing in this wicked world is permanent, not even our troubles.” She explains that the basic idea of the words is to remind us that whatever situation we are currently going through in life is temporary and will change.
For more information about Felton’s San Francsico Suicide Prevention Program, please visit http://sfsuicide.org. You can find contact information details on their Contact Page and their 24/hr crisis line is (415) 781-0500.
About Felton Institute: Founded in 1889, Felton Institute responds to human needs by providing cutting edge, evidence-based mental health and social services that transform lives. Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.
Offering more than 50 acclaimed and honored programs that address homelessness, mental health, prenatal, adolescent, adult, and senior needs, Felton Institute provides services in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, and Monterey counties. Felton’s social services and programs utilize the latest scientific research, combining cultural sensitivity, deep respect for client and staff, and a commitment to social justice.
Felton is the oldest non-sectarian and nonprofit social services provider in the City and County of San Francisco. For over a century, Felton Institute has been at the forefront of social service innovation, pioneering new approaches to meet underserved populations’ emerging needs. At the heart of our work is the belief that individuals and families in crisis must have access to services and resources to help them build on their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency. www.felton.org