Youth Mental Health First Aid Summer Highlights!

To date, San Mateo County has trained 1,837 people in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA)! Below are some of our recent highlights from this summer.

On June 23rd, twenty-seven CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of San Mateo County staff and volunteers were trained in YMHFA. CASA staff and volunteers work to provide consistent and ongoing advocacy and support to youth in the foster care system by building relationships and making sure that their basic rights are met. Providing YMHFA to CASA brought awareness to notice signs of mental health challenges in the youth they work with, who may have experienced trauma due to being taken away from their home, abuse, neglect, or loss of a parent.

On July 15th, the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) offered its 3rd Spanish YMHFA training to parents. Spanish YMHFA training is brought in partnership with the Parent Project to support continued learning and empowerment to parents and encourage them to become health ambassadors. HAP (Health Ambassadors Program) is a program developed for community members to become more involved and proactive in their communities to increase access to behavioral health services and challenge behavioral health stigma. After each Parent Project graduation, YMHFA training will be offered to parents to continue their learning in identifying signs and symptoms of a mental health challenge and how to better support their child experiencing a crisis.

On August 21st and 22nd, nineteen SMART-E staff from the San Carlos School District became YMHFAiders. SMART-E is a before and after school program for youth in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to 8th grade. SMART-E serves youth from diverse backgrounds, including adolescents who live in East Palo Alto (EPA). EPA residents have historically experienced exposure to crime, violence, incarceration, and low socioeconomic conditions. During the training, participants shared their own experiences working with the adolescents at SMART-E, where some adolescents exhibit behavioral issues, such as aggression and others having thoughts of suicide. Being a YMHFAider leads to being better equipped in handling those situations by providing reassurance and gaining the confidence to ask the question, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

ODE is committed to addressing health disparities, health inequities, and stigma in the areas of mental health and substance abuse in underserved, unserved, and inappropriately served communities in San Mateo County. Through Measure K funding, YMHFA is able to bring community awareness and break down the stigma of mental health and substance abuse to our diverse communities.

For more information, please contact Natalie Andrade at nandrade@smcgov.org.