A South Coast school is part of a nationwide pilot program aimed at improving the mental health literacy of high school students. Bishop Garcia Diego High School in Santa Barbara is one of 40 high schools across the country taking part in the Teen Mental Health First Aid project, which is funded in part by Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” Foundation.
Annmarie Cameron is CEO of the Santa Barbara based Mental Wellness Center, which has been developing mental health education programs for kids in Central and South Coast schools. They are piloting the program locally.
She says the idea is to give kids the tools to spot issues, and to help them get past the stigma of talking about mental health problems. The goal isn’t for teens to try to solve the problems. It’s for them to be able to identify potential issues, and to reach out to parents, teachers, or other adults to get help to those who need it.
Those involved with the pilot program say they are hoping this becomes the standard in schools across the country. They say it will help give teens information they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, and the tools to help recognize when someone needs help, and to help steer them towards it.