San Mateo County cities have launched a program aimed at training residents in mental health first aid to help others who may be experiencing a crisis.
The "Mental Health First Aid Training" program prepares community members to intervene early and help other adults or youth experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.
The announcement of the San Mateo County Mayors' Mental Health Initiative kicks off May as Mental Health Month. This year's theme, #SMCTakeAction4MH, encourages taking action to support mental wellness.
Redwood City Mayor, Giselle HaleThe San Carlos Mayor, and San Carlos Mayor Sara McDowell, brought together mayors from 16 cities across the county to focus on the growing need for services in this area.
"All of the mayors we spoke with not only shared a personal story, but also noted a great need in their community for mental health resources and outreach," McDowell said.
For his part, Hale said the mayors have recognized that the county's mental health challenges transcend differences of race, gender, ethnicity and economics, "and these problems cannot be addressed by any one city alone."
Thus, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors provided $200,000 to help fund mental health first aid trainings as part of COVID-19's recovery efforts.
The funds come from the federal American Recovery Plan Act, which helps communities overcome the challenges of the pandemic.
While there are no set schedules yet, the county noted that mental health first aid training will be offered year-round and will be eight hours in length, taught by trained instructors who meet certification requirements.
The San Mateo County Mayors' Mental Health Initiative includes Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Daly City, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Pacifica, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo and South San Francisco.
In addition to training in mental health first aid, throughout May, the county and cities are expected to support proclamations to raise awareness of Mental Health Month.
In addition, various public buildings will be illuminated in green - the national color for mental health - and public events will be held to help raise awareness, highlight resources and generate conversations about mental health.
San Mateo County Health is also sponsoring a number of events and activities this May.
The growing problem
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a 25 percent increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression. In December, the U.S. surgeon general issued a special advisory to highlight the urgent need to address the mental health crisis among the nation's youth.
In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, in 2021, one in three high school students reported experiencing mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more than 4 in 10 said they felt persistently sad or hopeless during the past year.
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