Chronic sadness and depression are issues for 27 percent of local teens, says Lisa Brabo of Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County
Teachers and staff from Lompoc Unified and Santa Maria Bonita school districts receive instruction on helping youth work through mental health problems. (Courtesy photo)
Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County (FSA), Mental Wellness Center and the Youthwell Coalition have partnered to provide Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings that give adults who work with youth an action plan for reaching out and offering appropriate support for a young people experiencing a mental health or substance use problem.
The trainings began in South County last year, and are now being offered in Santa Maria and Lompoc.
“Twenty-seven percent of teens in our county experience chronic sadness and depression, but many are reluctant to seek help or unsure where to turn for care,” said Lisa Brabo, FSA executive director. “Parents, teachers and others who work with youth ages 12-18 are encouraged to ‘Be The Difference’ and support these youth.”
Just as CPR teaches community members to help when a person is having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid teaches participants how to help a youth with a mental health issue and connect them to appropriate care.
Recently, several teachers and staff members from the Lompoc Unified School District (LUSD) and the Santa Maria Bonita School District (SMBSD) were trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid.
“Staff and counselors participating in the Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings have learned many ways to assist youth in need of mental health support,” said Mark Muller, SMBSD assistant superintendent of instructional services. “They’ve learned to recognize warnings signs, as well as when and how to intervene.”
“The Mental Health First Aid Class will help our community have more resources to help those in crisis and prevent tragedies from happening in our schools,” said Christine Santi, a science teacher at Lompoc High School.
Additional trainings for Lompoc and Santa Maria community members and school district employees are scheduled in March and April, including courses taught in Spanish:
March 14 — Santa Maria Joint Union High School District (Spanish)
March 24 — Santa Maria Joint Union High School District (English)
March 25 — Santa Maria Bonita School District (English)
April 4 — Dorothy Jackson Family Resource Center in Lompoc (Spanish)
April 4 — Lompoc location TBD (English)
April 29 — Lompoc Unified School District
For additional training dates and more information on the Youth Mental Health First Aid program, visit BeTheDifferenceSB.org.
For more about: Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County, fsacares.org or call 805-965-1001; Mental Health First Aid USA, visit mentalhealthfirstaid.org; Mental Wellness Center, mentalwellnesscenter.org; Youthwell Coalition, youthwell.org.