Nick Sermeño has worked in the mental health field for over a decade. The first position he acquired was a case manager working with individuals who have persistent and severe mental illnesses. It was through this work that Nick began to take note of highly complex and contradictory systems that underserved individuals often had to navigate. It was also where he learned as a provider that simple gestures could uphold, take or restore parts of people's human dignity.
Nick recognized that to robustly address issues of mental health, he would have to pursue a masters degree in social work, which he did at the University of Southern California. In 2010, he secured internships providing psychotherapy to children, adolescents and adults. After graduating in 2012, Nick postponed employment to recover from a medical injury. During this time, Nick found himself being denied health care coverage due to having a pre-existing condition and seeking public welfare assistance to financially cope with his inability to work.
After more than a year, Nick was able to secure a position providing psychotherapy to CalWORKs recipients. This public welfare assistance program aimed to remove barriers to employment and education for parents overcoming mental health issues. This time, when Nick's patients shared their struggles about navigating complex systems and the lack of dignity they were shown in welfare offices, he intimately understood their plight.
Upon completing his third year as a CalWORKs therapist, mounting observations about the systemic failures placed on the shoulders of his disproportionately female patients left him with a sense of new resolve. He determined that changing local public policies was the most direct way he could positively impact the populations he served. As such, he moved to the Bay Area to be closer to family and pursue this new path.
In 2017, he joined the Center for Youth Wellness (CYW) as a Clinical Care Coordinator. CYW's focus on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and his conversations with medical providers regarding Social Determinants of Health, confirmed Nick's suspicions about policy change. In 2019, he was appointed to the city of San Leandro's Human Services Commission.
Nick aspires to bring about change in San Leandro and the various Bay Area communities that he is a part of. He hopes to use his personal experiences, the stories of those he has served over the years and his own privileges to inform socially just policy changes.