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Santa Barbara County, CA (May 8, 2023) – Conversations around mental health issues can be challenging and complicated. Using the tools of Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), adults can help take the fear and hesitation out of starting a difficult conversation that may end up saving someone’s life. A new slate of YMHFA classes have been scheduled starting this May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.

The free training teaches adults how to spot warning signs of mental health risks and substance abuse in youth, and how to prevent a tragedy. Join the more than 1,600 Santa Barbara County parents, mental health providers, educators, and counselors have already been trained.

·        Learn compassion and nonjudgmental caring, while gaining practical tools to help.

·        Help change hearts and minds about mental illnesses and addictions by increasing awareness that mental health is essential for health.

·        Create a sense of community by restoring the connections that bind us – connections that when frayed lead to loneliness, social isolation and physical and mental health problems.

“Adults need to know that they have an important role to play in helping a young person struggling with a mental health concern or substance use,” said Michèle Pouget-Drum, YMHFA Instructor and member of the Board of Directors for the Mental Wellness Center (MWC).

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 helping the youth connect to appropriate support.

YMHFA is a collaborative effort of Family Service Agency, Mental Wellness Center, and Youthwell. The curriculum is provided by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. It is offered free to Santa Barbara County residents thanks to a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. To register, visit or call (805) 884-8440. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, contact someone immediately!

• If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, call 911.

• Contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Dial or text 988, call 800-273-8255 (TALK) or visit


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