Youth Mental Health First Aid Training Comes To Santa Barbara

Parents, Teachers, Others Encouraged to Join the Movement 

There’s a groundbreaking movement starting in Santa Barbara. Parents, teachers, and others who work with youth ages 12-18 are encouraged to “be the difference” by learning how to reach out support youth struggling with a mental health or substance abuse problem.

Family Service Agency, Mental Wellness Center, and the Youthwell Coalition have joined forces to provide Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings throughout Santa Barbara County. Just as CPR teaches community members to help when a person is having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training gives people the tools to identify when a young person might be struggling with a mental health or substance use problem. Mental Health First Aiders learn a 5-step action plan that guides them through the process of reaching out and offering appropriate support.

Classes are scheduled for January, February, and March in Santa Barbara including trainings for Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria school district staff. Additional trainings in English and Spanish will occur throughout the year and eventually be added in north and mid-county. (See attached list of upcoming classes and workshops.) To register for a Youth Mental Health First Aid training in Santa Barbara, visit BetheDifferenceSB.org or call (805) 884-8440.   

Classes are provided at no cost to participants due to funding through a three-year federal grant for mental health awareness training to teachers, parents, mental health professional, and community members. The grant also includes funding for crisis intervention training for Santa Barbara County sheriffs and interactive educational forums. The first parent/community workshop, scheduled for January 27, will navigating the digital and gaming age with youth. Learn more at Youthwell.org.

“Through this program, we hope to take the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health and substance use problems experienced by our local youth,” says Lisa Brabo, Executive Director for Family Service Agency, which is overseeing the project. “When more people are equipped with the tools they need to start a dialogue, more people can get the help they need.”

Twenty-seven percent of teens in our county experience chronic sadness, but many are reluctant to seek help or might not know where to turn for care. Unlike physical conditions, symptoms of mental health and substance use problems can be difficult to detect. For friends and family members, it can be hard to know when and how to step in. As a result, those in need of mental health services often do not get them until it is too late.

In just ten years, Mental Health First Aid has become a full-blown movement in the United States—more than 1 million people are certified Mental Health First Aiders, and that number is growing every day.

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About Mental Health First Aid

The National Council for Behavioral Health was instrumental in bringing Mental Health First Aid to the USA and more than 1 million individuals have been trained. To learn more about Mental Health First Aid USA, visit mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

About Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County

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.

About Mental Wellness Center

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.

About the Youthwell Coalition

YouthWell is focused on improving prevention, education, and early intervention outreach in Santa Barbara County, in order to connect youth, ages 12-25, and their families to mental health supports before the crisis. Youthwell is committed to mobilizing community stakeholders, service providers, schools, and caregivers, in order to create a coordinated and comprehensive care response system. Visit youthwell.org for more information.

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