Federal Grant to Provide Mental Health First Aid Trainings to Over 4,800 Residents

To register for a YMHFA training, visit BetheDifferenceSB.org

Santa Barbara County, CA (February 7, 2022) – In response to our nation’s mental health crisis, Family Service Agency (FSA), Mental Wellness Center (MWC), and Youthwell have secured funding that will continue to bring Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) trainings to Santa Barbara County. In the next five years, the coalition expects to train 2,800 adults to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges in youth, provide initial response, and safely connect youth with appropriate services. The funding also includes training 2,000 high school students to recognize and respond to the signs of mental health issues in their peers.

Virtual YMHFA classes start this February and are offered at no cost to Santa Barbara County adults thanks to funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“The pandemic has dramatically increased depression and anxiety in youth, but many are reluctant to seek help or don’t know where to turn for care,” said YMHFA Coordinator, Lyn Shirvanian. “Symptoms can be difficult to detect. Friends and family members often don’t know when to step in. As a result, youth in need of mental health services often don’t receive care until it is too late.”

Just as CPR helps even those without clinical training assist an individual having a heart attack, YMHFA teach participants the skills to interact with a youth experiencing a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aiders learn a five-step action plan that guides them through the process of reaching out and offering appropriate support.

Mental Health First Aid has become a full-blown movement in the United States — more than 2.5 million people are certified Mental Health First Aiders, and that number is growing every day. In the past three years, FSA, MWC and Youthwell have certified over 1,600 parents, mental health providers, educators, other school personnel in YMHFA.

To register for a YMHFA training, visit BetheDifferenceSB.org or call (805) 884-8440.


The National Council for Mental Wellbeing was instrumental in bringing Mental Health First Aid to the United States. To learn more about Mental Health First Aid USA, visit MHFA.org.

 The mission of Family Service Agency (FSA) is to strengthen and advocate for families and individuals of all ages and diversities, helping to create and preserve a healthy community. FSA is regarded as one of Santa Barbara County’s most reliable and effective nonprofit human service organizations. Established in 1899, FSA improves the health and well-being of our community’s most vulnerable children, families and seniors by ensuring access to food, shelter and other basic needs, as well as providing youth mentoring, case management, substance abuse treatment, advocacy, and a wide-array of mental health programs. For more information, visit www.fsacares.org.

The Mental Wellness Center (MWC) is the non-profit organization that recognizes mental illness is a community matter affecting us all. Providing education and support, MWC is dedicated to meeting the immediate and future needs of our Youth, Adults, Families, and the greater Community. Visit mentalwellnesscenter.org for more information.

YouthWell focuses on education, prevention, support, and early intervention, connecting youth through age 25 and their families to mental health and wellness resources before the crisis. YouthWell mobilizes community stakeholders in order to improve outcomes, affect systemic change, and build common understanding. YouthWell provides an online Community Calendar and a Mental Health Resource Directory for Santa Barbara County. Visit youthwell.org for more information.

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