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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
The Youth Wellness Council is a high school leadership program of the Mental Wellness Center that educates, empowers and engages students. 30+ students come together each year from multiple schools that are interested in serving a leadership role in the Youth Wellness Connection Clubs on their high school campuses. They learn about current issues and community resources. They participate in team-building exercises that build character, improve communication, and reduce prejudice and stigma around mental health. They design campus campaigns and activities. They gain leadership tools that include planning, facilitating, public speaking, program planning, evaluation and group decision-making. They serve as an advisory committee to the YouthWell Coalition to provide a student voice.
Weekly Club meetings are led by the Council members on each campus and are open to all students. Club meetings provide an opportunity to make connections, participate in campus leadership, earn volunteer hours, and make a difference in changing campus culture. Students conduct monthly wellness campaigns to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health by promoting self-care and kindness through connection, prevention, education and outreach activities. San Marcos High School students launched the first YWC Club in 2016 sponsored by the Mental Wellness Center. In 2017, clubs were launched at four additional schools and the YWC Council was created as a program of the Mental Wellness Center in order to support the club leadership and campaigns.
For more information, please contact:
Mental Wellness Center Education Coordinator, Youth Wellness Connection & YouthWell
The YouthWell Coalition formed in June 2016 with key community stakeholders coming together to start the discussion and address the mental health gaps in services for students and their families in Southern Santa Barbara County.
The YouthWell Coalition has 32+ dedicated community partners including local school districts, mental health providers, medical community, and law enforcement. The Mental Wellness Center is a proud Fiscal Sponsor of the Coalition.
The YouthWell Coalition’s Mission is to connect youth, ages 12-25, and their families to mental health supports before the crisis, and mobilize community stakeholders, service providers, schools, and caregivers to establish priorities and set goals, in order to create a coordinated and comprehensive system of care focused on early intervention, prevention and education.