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Parents, Teachers, Others Urged to ‘Be The Difference’ 

Family Service Agency, Mental Wellness Center, and the Youthwell Coalition have partnered to provide Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings that gives 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 popular 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, Family Service Agency 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             at the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District  (taught in Spanish)

March 24             at the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District  (English)

March 25             at the Santa Maria Bonita School District (English)

April 4                  at the Dorothy Jackson Family Resource Center in Lompoc (Spanish)

April 4                  at the Lompoc location TBD (English)

April 29                at the Lompoc Unified School District

For additional training dates and more information on the Youth Mental Health First Aid program, and how to “Be The Difference” visit BeTheDifferenceSB.org.