Staff Report

Parents, teachers and Santa Barbara County professionals who work with youth ages 12-18 are encouraged to participate in a free, upcoming Youth Mental Health First Aid training session, which teaches participants how to support youth struggling with a mental health or substance abuse problem.

Free online training will be offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 20; June 3 and 15; July 8 and 20; and Aug. 10 and 19.

Just as CPR teaches community members to help when a person is having a heart attack, Youth Mental Health First Aid training gives people the tools to identify when a young person might be struggling with a mental health or substance use problem.

Mental health first-aiders learn a five-step action plan that guides them through the process of reaching out and offering appropriate support. They also learn the impact of traumatic experiences on adolescent development. Participants receive a three-year certification from the National Council for Behavioral Health.

“It’s been a traumatic year,” said Annmarie Cameron, CEO for the Mental Wellness Center. “Youth have been impacted by school closures and social distancing guidelines, and they may not be forthcoming about any difficulties they are experiencing.

“Adults can make a huge difference by getting trained on how to respond to mental health concerns in a young person. Our goal is to train 500 additional community members this year.” 

The classes are provided by Family Service Agency, Mental Wellness Center, and the Youthwell Coalition. For more information, visit or call 805-884-8440.