Sophie Suh

Sophie Suh

Sophie Suh, Mental Wellness Center’s Wellness Connection Council member, is among the transformational students participating in the center’s newest program, Wellness Connection.

The Wellness Connection is a high school leadership program of the Mental Wellness Center that educates, empowers and engages students to become mental health upstanders. Council members work together to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health by promoting education, prevention and advocacy in their communities through their work in impact teams.

Suh was recently selected as a member of the Bullying Prevention Advisory Committee (BPAC) for the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.

“I am continually blown away by the wisdom and resilience of the youth in our council,” said Alexis Malatesta, Education Department manager, Mental Wellness Center. “They are passionate change-makers in our community and my hope is that the council is a source of empowerment for each of them.

“Sophie is a model youth and has maximized every opportunity on the council, getting involved in every project and campaign that has come her way. It’s been amazing to see her grow and flourish these past two years. Youth like Sophie give me hope for a brighter future.”

“The Mental Wellness Center’s Wellness Connection Program has helped me help others in a variety of different ways,” Suh said. “The connections that I found, the support that I received from the mentors, and confidence I gained from my experience inspired me to do so many things I wouldn’t have been able to do.

“Through my participation in the council, I learned how to speak effectively, that my voice has power, and that I could make change in my community if I wanted to. I’m forever thankful that I joined.”

The Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) was established to support transformational change in mental health care for all Californians, and the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission was given the authority and responsibility to drive that change.

The act generates $2 billion in revenues annually, and prioritizes seven key outcomes for improvement: suicide, incarceration, school failure, unemployment, prolonged suffering, homelessness and the removal of children from their home.

“Sophie’s demonstrated experience will be an asset to the Commission as we attempt to improve the lives of youth experiencing bullying and increase awareness about youth mental health,” said Commissioner Shuo Chen, chair of the BPAC.

“Sophie has continued to show her passion, dedication, and drive to continue to make change in youth mental health advocacy,” said Marisol Beas, representative for Mental Health America of California.

The committee is charged with investing $5 million designated by the State of California to develop a proposal that responds to the threats and risks facing young people linked to bullying and hate speech. This proposal will build upon a social media foundation to reach children, youth, and young adults across California.  

Suh, along with four youth also appointed to the committee, will be leading and advising how California responds to the threats and risks facing young people linked to bullying and hate speech. In the fall, the Wellness Connection welcomed 50 local high school students to their leadership council from six high schools throughout Santa Barbara County.

For more about the Mental Wellness Center, visit: