Programs & Services

Youth & Education

Mental Health Matters

Mental Health Matters (MHM) is a program of the Mental Wellness Center. Originally created in 2000, MHM is designed to introduce basic facts about mental health to elementary, middle and high school students.

There are two MHM curricula, both of which were created by the Education Committee of the Mental Wellness Center. The MHM curriculum designed for 6th graders (MHM-6) was initially launched in 2008, while the curriculum created to be taught in high school health classes (MHM-HS) was developed later. Both address the three foci that are at the heart of best practices in mental health education:

  1. Signs and symptoms of major mental health disorders
  2. Stigma and how it affects our perceptions of mental illness
  3. Wellness activities and practices

The underlying premise of MHM is that with understanding, youth will know to seek help should they or someone they know experience symptoms of a possible mental health disorder, knowing that early treatment tends to lead to better outcomes. There is evidence of a recognized need for mental health education that is grounded in the increase in requests and the ongoing success of the MHM curriculum.

Our work is now well established in the Buellton, Carpinteria, Cold Spring, Hope, Goleta Union, and Santa Barbara Unified School Districts as well as in several local, private schools. 

Learn more about Mental Health Matters

For more information, please contact:
Ann Lippincott, PhD 
Mental Health Matters Facilitator

Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an 8-hour certification course that teaches community members how to help a someone who may be developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Participants learn how to recognize, understand and respond appropriately to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The Mental Wellness Center offers MHFA for the general public as well as for specific organizations such as social clubs, faith communities, chambers of commerce, professional associations, rotary clubs, and professionals who regularly interact with people (e.g., police officers, human resource directors, and primary care workers in hospitals and nursing homes).

To Learn more and register for an upcoming MHFA course, click here.

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA)

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is designed for adults who regularly interact with young people - either in a personal or professional capacity. It is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who may be experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or who is in crisis. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

To Learn more and register for an upcoming YMHFA course, click here.

Teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA)

Teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) is an evidence-based course that teaches teenagers the skills they need to recognize and help their friends with potential mental health and substance use problems and crises and how to get the help of an appropriate adult. The course is designed to be delivered in high schools or other community sites by a trained teen Mental Health First Aid Instructor in three interactive classroom sessions of 75 minutes each or five sessions of 45 minutes each on non-consecutive days.

This past January, Bishop Garcia Diego High School participated in the expanded teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) pilot program, the first of its kind developed for high school students in the U.S. The school is one of 50 selected to take part in the second cohort of the pilot program, bringing the total of sites teaching the program to more than 75. The training for Bishop Garcia Diego High School is being implemented in partnership with the Mental Wellness Center, Family Service Agency and the YouthWell Coalition.

Wellness Connection

The Wellness Connection is a high school leadership program of the Mental Wellness Center that educates, empowers, and engages students. Students raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health by promoting self-care, connection, kindness, education, prevention, and outreach amongst their peers.

In 2017, Wellness Connection was created as a program of the Mental Wellness Center. For the first three years, the Mental Wellness Center contracted and collaborated with Rachael Steidl for the design and implementation of the Wellness Connection. In 2020, the Wellness Connection was rebranded to Wellness Connection. This youth-driven leadership program is committed to raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health in our community. And in fall 2020, the Wellness Connection welcomed 60 local high school students to the leadership council from high schools throughout Santa Barbara County. In 2021, the Wellness Connection launched a brand new website, click here to visit the new site today!

Learn more about Wellness Connection

For more information, please contact:
Alexis Malatesta
Education Department Manager