Santa Barbara schools, nonprofits and public agencies are standing up to the challenge of youth and family mental health in 2022 through the new social awareness campaign focusing on the message “Our Mental Health Matters.”
YouthWell will focus a network of partner agencies on expanding access to family mental health services, raising awareness through education, and making mental health and wellness approachable for all community members. The campaign was designed with ideas from a youth intern team (ages 14-22).
“We have many wonderful organizations providing mental health services in Santa Barbara County. The challenge is that the needs are increasing and there is still a lot of shame in asking for help,” said Rachael Steidl, executive director of YouthWell.
“Our goal is to eliminate the stigma around mental health in order to normalize the conversation,” she said. “We want to encourage youth and adults to 1. Make self-care a priority in their daily lives. 2. Seek help when they need it. 3. Show compassion when someone is struggling with a mental health challenge. 4. Treat mental health challenges with the same respect and care we show someone with a physical illness or injury.”
In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Association of Children’s Hospitals issued a joint advisory declaring youth mental health a crisis in the U.S.
Similarly, the U.S. surgeon general prioritized youth mental health in a December 2020 advisory. Child and adolescent mental health hospitalizations and suicides had already been increasing over the past decade, according to the advisories, and disruptions from the pandemic have exacerbated an already troubling trend.
The YouthWell Community Collaborative convenes quarterly to work toward systemic change with 50 community partners including school districts, organizations, healthcare, providers, law enforcement, juvenile probation, and faith communities.
The online Youth & Family Mental Health & Wellness Resource Directory at YouthWell.org can be viewed in English and Spanish and serves all of Santa Barbara County. Families can search for services for youth, ages 0-25, and find support groups, treatment programs, crisis hotlines, therapists, and postvention resources for those in recovery.
The Community Calendar provides up to date information from all of our organizations about their workshops, support groups, classes, buffering services, and Mental Health First Aid training.