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Santa Barbara County, CA (July 8, 2024) – Family Service Agency (FSA) and Youthwell are pleased to announce that over 700 teens and adults were trained in mental health first aid practices this past year.

Many Santa Barbara County residents will benefit from the individuals who have learned how to take the first step in assisting those with mental health challenges.

“Our classes give people the tools to help start conversations when they spot warning signs of mental health risks and substance abuse,” said Lyn Shirvanian, program coordinator. “These ‘First Aiders’ play a crucial role in helping youth connect to appropriate support, which can divert a tragedy.”

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA), and Question-Persuade-Refer (QPR) classes have been taught free-of-charge to county residents as part of a five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. So far, over 1,953 participants have been trained in virtual and in-person classes as a result of the funding. In many cases, FSA and Youthwell collaborate with organizations and schools to offer classes tailored to their constituents. Classes can be conducted in English or Spanish.

“This year, we were privileged and honored to collaborate with YouthWell and FSA to provide essential training and resources to communities in the Santa Maria Valley. With their assistance, we conducted culturally responsive Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) and Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) sessions for parents, staff, and community partners, strengthening and empowering our collective ability to support the mental wellbeing of our youth through the tools and knowledge gained,” said Juan Pacheco Marcial, Por Vida Program Supervisor at One Community Action.

FSA and Youthwell encourage other County residents, from Carpinteria to Guadalupe, to participate in the trainings. For more information about upcoming trainings in YMHFA, tMHFA, and QPR, visit

Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County (FSA) is a nonprofit social service agency that has served the people of Santa Barbara County since 1899. Operating as Santa Maria Valley Youth and Family Center (SMVYFC) in Santa Maria and Little House By The Park (LHP) in Guadalupe, FSA helps the community’s most vulnerable children, families, and seniors meet their basic needs while simultaneously addressing mental health needs. Through this holistic approach, FSA improves the strength and well-being of our community. Visit or call (805) 965-1001 for more information.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t seek help or support when they are struggling with a mental health challenge is because of the stigma and shame associated with it. YouthWell’s prevention and early intervention programs focus on mental health and wellness education, outreach, and improving access to coordinated care in order to connect youth through age 25 and their families to mental health resources before the crisis. In addition to hosting Support Groups and a Youth Advisory Board, YouthWell also provides an online Youth & Family Mental Health & Wellness Resource Directory for Santa Barbara County. For more information, visit

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