Federal grant to provide mental health first aid training to more than 4,800 Santa Barbara County residents

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To register for YMHFA training, visit BetheDifferenceSB.org

Santa Barbara County, California (February 7, 2022) – In response to our nation’s mental health crisis, the Family Services Agency (FSA), Mental Wellbeing Center (MWC) and Youthwell have secured funding that will continue to provide first aid training in 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.

“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. Often friends and family members don’t know when to intervene. As a result, young people who need mental health services often do not receive care until 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 as mental health first aid, and that number is growing every day. Over the past three years, the FSA, MWC, and Youthwell have certified more than 1,600 parents, mental health providers, educators, and other YMHFA school personnel.

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


the National Council for Mental Wellbeing was instrumental in the introduction of mental health first aid in the United States. To learn more about Mental Health First Aid USA, visit PSSM.org.

The mission of Family Services Agency (FSA) is to strengthen and advocate for families and individuals of all ages and diversities, helping to create and sustain a healthy community. The FSA is considered one of the most trusted and effective nonprofit social service organizations in Santa Barbara County. Founded in 1899, the FSA improves the health and well-being of the most vulnerable children, families and seniors in our community by ensuring access to food, shelter and other basic needs, as well as than by offering youth mentorship, case management, addiction treatment, advocacy, and a wide range of mental health programs. For more information, visit www.fsacares.org.

the Mental Wellness Center (MWC) is the non-profit organization that recognizes that mental illness is a community issue that affects us all. By providing education and support, MWC is dedicated to meeting the immediate and future needs of our Youth, Adults, Familiesand more Community. Visit mentalwellnesscenter.org for more information.

YouthWell focuses on education, prevention, support and early intervention, connecting young people up to the age of 25 and their families to mental health and wellbeing resources before the crisis. YouthWell engages community stakeholders to improve outcomes, influence systemic change, and build shared understanding. YouthWell provides an online community calendar and mental health resource directory for Santa Barbara County. Visit www.youthwell.org for more information.

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