Posted on February 7, 2022
| 5:03 p.m.
In response to the country’s mental health crisis, the Family Services Agency (FSA), Mental Wellbeing Center (MWC) and Youthwell have secured funding that will continue to provide health first aid training Youth Mental Health (YMHFA) in Santa Barbara County.
Over the next five years, the coalition plans to train 2,800 adults to recognize the signs and symptoms of youth mental health issues, provide an initial response, and safely connect young people to appropriate services.
The funding also includes training 2,000 high school students to recognize and respond to signs of mental health issues in their peers.
YMHFA Virtual Classes begin in February and are offered free to adults in Santa Barbara County, with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. To register for YMHFA training, visit BetheDifferenceSB.org or call 805-884-8440.
“The pandemic has dramatically increased depression and anxiety among young people, 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 intervene.
“As a result, young people who need mental health services often only receive care when it is too late.”
Just as CPR helps even those without clinical training help someone who is having a heart attack, the YMHFA teaches participants the skills needed to interact with a young person in mental health crisis. Mental health first aiders learn a five-step action plan that guides them through the process of making contact and offering appropriate support.
Mental health first aid has become a movement in its own right in the United States; more than 2.5 million people are certified mental health first aiders, and that number continues to grow. Over the past three years, the FSA, MWC and Youthwell have certified some 1,600 parents, mental health providers, educators and other YMHFA school personnel.
To learn more about Mental Health First Aid USA, visit MHFA.org. To learn more about Family Service Agency, visit www.fsacares.org. Visit mentalwellnesscenter.org to learn more about the Mental Wellness Center. To learn more about YouthWell, visit youthwell.org.