Office of Diversity and Equity Kicks off New Fiscal Year with 100th YMHFA Session!

Wednesday, July 5th marked the 100th Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) session for San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity. The YMHFA training took place at Puente de la Costa Sur in Pescadero.

Puente is the only Community Resource Center serving San Mateo County’s rural South Coast. According to a recent report prepared by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in February 2017, the South Coast is “home to about 2,950 largely marginalized and isolated residents, mostly Latino farm and nursery workers and their families, as well as low-income Caucasian residents.” Considered that the South Coast is the Bay Area’s most rural zone, communities in the region have no emergency room, public library, public park, childcare center, affordable grocery store, laundromat, sewage system or flood control system.

Puente’s Clinical Director, Joann Watkins LMFT, who participated in the training, expressed that it takes law enforcement and emergency services about half an hour to arrive in Pescadero after a 911 call. For mental health related crises, community members must be prepared to intervene and keep the youth and others safe while waiting for law enforcement. Youth Mental Health First Aid provides the appropriate training for this type of situation. The curriculum is geared towards adults without professional experience in mental health services. It teaches participants how to better recognize signs and symptoms of a mental health challenge in a young person, and how to employ a first responder action plan.

Nineteen of Puente’s staff attended the training. The Office of Diversity and Equity hopes to train even more adults in the South Coast community by bringing YMHFA to the La Honda-Pescadero school district in the near future.

For more information about YMHFA, visit or contact Natalie Andrade at or 650-372-8548.

Co-written by Natalie Andrade and Mai Le