Tag Archives: youth mental health first aid

First Spanish Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) Since 2018!

Version en Español abajo

In true collaborative fashion, members of BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity came together with the San Mateo Office of Education to offer a Spanish Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training with only a month of planning.  The last Spanish YMHFA training offered was in 2018. 

The eight (8) hour in person course curriculum teaches how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among adolescents ages 12 – 18.  At the end of the course, participants will be able to: 

  • Describe the purpose of Youth Mental Health First Aid and the role of the Youth Mental Health First Aider.   
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges that may impact youth.  
  • Explain the impact of traumatic experiences and the role of resilience on adolescent development.  
  • Apply the appropriate steps of the YMHFA Action Plan (ALGEE) to non-crisis and crisis situations.   
  • Choose appropriate methods for self-care following the application of Youth Mental Health First Aid in a crisis or non-crisis situation.  

The training was held over two Saturdays, February 11 and 18 with fifteen (15) individuals becoming certified as Youth Mental Health First Aiders.  We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Juan Cuba and Ivette Melendez who had to re-certify as Spanish YMHFA instructors in a very short time in order to teach the training. 

Another Spanish YMHFA training will be offered to Parent Project graduates and Health Ambassadors by the end of June. 

Here are several comments from the participants: 

  • “Instructors were very clear and knowledgeable about the topics and were great communicators and very dynamic.”
  • “This course was very valuable and it helped me a lot.”
  • “I learned how to listen without judgement, how to speak to youth and offer support.”
  • “You learn things you can put into practice in your family and all the people in our community.”

In community, 

Charo Martinez, Maria Martinez and Twila Dependahl 

De manera verdaderamente colaborativa, los miembros de la Oficina de Diversidad y Equidad de BHRS se unieron con la Oficina de Educación de San Mateo para ofrecer un curso de capacitación en Primeros Auxilios de Salud Mental de Jóvenes (PASMJ), en español, con solo un mes de planificación. La última vez que se ofreció este curso en español fue en el 2018. 

Este entrenamiento presencial de ocho (8) horas enseña cómo identificar, comprender y responder a los signos de retos de salud mental y consumo de sustancias entre los adolescentes de 12 a 18 años. Al final del curso, los participantes podrán: 

  • Describir el propósito de los Primeros Auxilios de Salud Mental de Jóvenes y el rol del Primero Auxiliar de Salud Mental. 
  • Reconocer los signos y síntomas de los retos de salud mental que pueden afectar a los jóvenes. 
  • Explicar el impacto de las experiencias traumáticas y la influencia de la resiliencia en el desarrollo de los adolescentes.  
  • Aplicar los pasos apropiados del Plan de Acción de Primeros Auxilios de Salud Mental (REDES) a situaciones de crisis y no crisis. 
  • Elegir métodos apropiados para el autocuidado, siguiendo la aplicación de Primeros Auxilios de Salud Mental de Jóvenes en una situación de crisis o no crisis.  

El entrenamiento se llevó a cabo durante dos sábados, el 11 y el 18 de febrero, y quince (15) participantes se certificaron en Primeros Auxilios de Salud Mental de Jóvenes. Nos gustaría expresar nuestro más profundo agradecimiento a Juan Cuba e Ivette Meléndez, quienes tuvieron que volver a certificarse como instructores en español de PASMJ en muy poco tiempo para poder dirigir esta capacitación. 

Se ofrecerá otra capacitación de PASMJ en español a los graduados del Proyecto de Padres y Embajadores de Salud antes de fines de junio. 

Aquí hay varios comentarios de los participantes: 

  • “Los instructores fueron muy claros, con gran conocimiento de los temas y fueron excelentes comunicadores y muy dinámicos.”
  • “Este curso fue muy valioso y me ayudó mucho.” 
  • “Aprendí a escuchar sin juzgar, a hablar con los jóvenes, y a ofrecer apoyo.” 
  • “Aprendes cosas que puedes poner en práctica en tu familia y en todas las personas de nuestra comunidad.”

En comunidad,  

Charo Martinez, Maria Martinez y Twila Dependahl 

From Parent Project Graduates to Youth Mental Health First Aiders

Parent Project graduates taking Youth Mental Health First Aid

Parent Project graduates taking Youth Mental Health First Aid at Mills High School in April 2018

When parents and caregivers sign up to take the 12 week Parent Project course, they might not know what is in store for them. A sense of community is built in those short weeks and the knowledge gained sparks a deeper interest to continue learning to help others and their children.

By offering a Youth Mental Health First Aid training after Parent Project, parents and caregivers learn why knowing the signs of a mental health challenge or crisis, including suicide, can help their children. For many, their children are first generation U.S. born children, who face the challenges of growing up in a culture different from their parents. For many parents and caregivers attending the training, trying to understand the world their children are growing up in and finding the support from their peers in the room is the most beneficial aspect of their time in the class.

The Parent Project® is a free, 12-week course that is offered in English and Spanish to anyone who cares for a child or adolescent. For more information, please contact Frances Lobos at flobos@smcgov.org.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) course is an 8-hour public education training program designed for any adult working with or assisting young people, ages 12-24. For more information on Youth Mental Health First Aid, please contact Natalie Andrade at nandrade@smcgov.org

To learn more about other programs and classes similar to these, visit the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE)’s website here

Written by Natalie Andrade, YMHFA Program Coordinator

K-Pop Artist’s Death by Suicide Sparks Conversation About Mental Health


A portrait of Kim Jong-Hyun on a mourning altar at a hospital in Seoul on December 19, 2017.

Millions of fans mourn the tragic loss of K-Pop star, Kim Jong-Hyun, better known as Jonghyun, who died by suicide on Monday at the age of 27. Jonghyun was best known as the lead singer of K-Pop band, SHINee which rose to fame after the release of its debut EP, Replay, in 2008. As well as being a singer and accomplished dancer, Jonghyun played a large part in the group’s song writing and production.  He had also made headlines for speaking out on issues of the government’s education policy and in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

Jonghyun was considered one of the most talented and well- rounded artists in the K-Pop music industry. According to SM Entertainment, the singer’s management company, “Jonghyun is the best artist who loved music more than anyone else, enjoyed the stage, and loved to communicate with fans through his music. We will always remember you.”

Suicide continues to be a prevalent public health issue primarily due to the constant stigmatization of mental health. A petition on change.org was created in honor of Jonghyun asking for more mental health support for artists in the entertainment industry. The petition explicitly asks for all entertainment industries to make a plan or program to monitor mental health in their employees as well as ensuring that the program would not be used against them and harm their careers. This petition, once reaching its goal of 300,000 signatures is expected to be delivered to Entertainment Industries and the South Korean Government.

Hopefully this petition will increase conversations about mental health and suicide prevention as well as recognition of its importance in saving a life.

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How Knowing the Signs Can Help Save a Life


Natalie Andrade with ALGEE the MHFA mascot

Before I started working at the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE), I did not have a clue as to what the warning signs of suicide, depression, and anxiety were. It wasn’t until I became a Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) instructor that I realized the importance of knowing the signs of mental health challenges. During my instructor training, taught by two amazing trainers from the National Council, I felt empowered to go back to my community and teach others important skills one can learn from the training. Knowing the signs of suicide can help save a life, yet the most challenging piece of knowing the signs is having the courage to start the conversation about suicide with someone you are concerned about.

In the YMHFA training, participants practice using a 5-step action plan called ALGEE, which stands for:


  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

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Happy World Mental Health Day!


Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day, and in commemoration of this year’s theme “Mental Health in the Workplace”, Mental Health First Aid USA provides some thought provoking statistics about how “good health is good for business, and good health includes mental health”.  

According to the National Council for Behavioral Health, 1 in 5 American adults have a mental illness and 1 in 10 full time employees have an addiction.  Even more concerning is that 35% of managers feel they receive no formal support or resources to help employees. This highly correlates with work performance as mental health in the workplace is known to impact productivity, engagement, and quality of work. High-performing teams also rely on inclusion, respect, and skillful communication which fall under the umbrella of good mental health.

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Learn How to Save a Life: Become a Youth Mental Health First Aider!


Youth Mental Health First Aid is being offered on Wednesday, December 6 and Thursday, December 7 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. Sign up today! Class limit is 30 people.

Learn how to recognize the unique warning signs and risk factors of a mental health challenge and how to offer support that can make a real difference in a young person’s life! Educate and empower yourself to help bridge the gap between an adolescent experiencing a mental health crisis and getting appropriate professional help.

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The Importance of Providing Youth Mental Health First Aid in Spanish to Half Moon Bay Residents

9-23-17 Group PhotoMoonridge Apartments are a secluded apartment complex surrounded by rolling hills in an unincorporated area of San Mateo County, where its residents are predominantly Latinx and monolingual. Providing YMHFA for this community challenged the stigma often associated with mental health and connected residents to resources and supports provided in their area, including what to do if someone is having a mental health crisis or emergency. Supervising Mental Health Clinician Hector Moncada from Coastside Clinic attended the training to answer any questions and provided information on services offered by the clinic and in the community.

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Continuing the Conversation on Mental Health with School Resource Officers

9-14-17 3When a young person is in immediate crisis, School Resource Officers (SROs) are often called to assess the young person and determine if the youth needs hospitalization. Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) takes this process a step further by building empathy and understanding through listening non-judgmentally and giving reassurance and information, two steps from the YMHFA Action Plan, to the youth in crisis. Following protocols is essential, yet can be a difficult process for a young person who may be experiencing a mental health emergency. The hope in training School Resource Officers in YMHFA is to minimize the impact hospitalization may cause for a young student by building relationships, connections, and providing support.

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Why Don’t Teachers Get Training On Mental Health Issues

Earlier this month, I represented ODE at the first annual Pacifica Family Summit at Ingrid B. Lacey Middle School. The day featured workshops led by youth as well as adults on topics such as peer mentoring, meaningful youth engagement, substance use, and digital storytelling. It was a great start of a longer conversation among students, families, teachers, and school staff about mental health.

On one youth-led panel I attended on coping with stress, anxiety and special needs, a member of the school’s staff said that teachers and coaches often serve on the front line of mental health disorders: “Your child might not open up to you, but she’ll open up to me.” Which made me wonder, why don’t teachers receive more training on mental health issues, especially among adolescents?

An article on KQED News asks the same question. Author Katrina Schwartz notes that teachers have a lot of balls to juggle: “content standards, the social and emotional needs of students, behavior, and often trauma.” Citing an article originally published in The Atlantic, Schwartz also notes that more and more schools are using such evidence-based mental health programs as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Trauma-Sensitive Schools. But without basic mental health training, “it is easy to confuse the symptoms of a mental health disorder with run-of-the-mill misbehavior.”

The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) offers a free, interactive course for schools in San Mateo County called Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). This training is geared towards adults who work with youth, including classroom teachers, school site administrators, school office personnel, coaches, bus drivers, afterschool providers, teacher’s aides, school health aides, yard duty staff, crossing guards, parents, faith community members, and the general community. The course empowers adults to identify and respond to a young person (aged 12-24) who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis/challenge or emotional distress. With YMHFA’s 5-step Action Plan, school personnel will be better equipped to identify signs, symptoms, and risk factors for mental health challenges that commonly affect our young people. Mental health literacy creates a safer, supportive, and inclusive school community by reducing stigma and increasing access to and knowledge about appropriate mental health services. YMHFA has made me a better listener and has encouraged me to bring more awareness to the stigma of mental health in our communities.  To date, San Mateo County has trained 1,538 individuals in Youth Mental Health First Aid.

To learn more about the program or to become a YMHFAider, contact Natalie Andrade at nandrade@smcgov.org or 650-372-8548. If you prefer to watch a video about our MHFA program, click here.

Co-authors: Hillary Chu and Natalie Andrade

Parents from the Migrant Education Program trained in YMHFA

After three evening sessions, parents from the Migrant Education Program in South San Francisco were trained in Spanish Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA).  The Migrant Education Program, provided by South San Francisco Unified School District, is a program that funds and supports educational programs for migratory children and their families. The program’s School Liaison/Recruiter, Veronica Benavides, helped coordinate YMHFA for parents in collaboration with Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE).


Youth Mental Health First Aid is offered in English and Spanish.

For more information about YMHFA, visit http://smchealth.org/bhrs/ode/CommunityEd or contact Natalie Andrade at nandrade@smcgov.org or 650-372-8548.

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