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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
October 19, 2020

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

Virtual Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainings

The California Department of Education (CDE) continues to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) Trainings to your school, district, and county staff at no cost.

YMHFA Training is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. It provides child and youth-serving adults, including school and district staff, with skills to recognize and support a school-aged child or adolescent who may be experiencing emotional distress, the onset of a mental illness, addiction challenge, or who may be in crisis.

The training will be provided virtually and is a combination of self-paced and instructor-led learning. In just six-and-a-half hours, the course introduces common mental health challenges for children and youth, reviews typical development, and teaches a five-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

Topics covered in the training include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and eating disorders. YMHFA content now includes critical components such as cultural considerations, the impact of culture on trauma, school violence and bullying, social media impacts, and self-care. Additionally, the training has been restructured to include information relevant to young children in the elementary school grades.

The CDE is aware that COVID-19, coupled with the country’s quest for social justice, has exacerbated the need for mental health services among our kindergarten through twelfth grade students. These circumstances have placed an inordinate amount of strain on our children and youth. The connection that was once present during in-person instruction has been disrupted. Many students are suffering in silence and are not able to access help. Teachers and school staff must be alert and learn to recognize signs and behaviors that could be indicative of emotional distress when connecting with their students.

Unidentified and unaddressed mental health issues can lead to myriad issues, including truancy, disengagement, dropping out of school, falling victim to addiction, homelessness, suicide, or other tragic outcomes. YMHFA can help school staff provide early help by identifying and linking students to the resources they need.

These trainings are available to school districts through Project Cal-Well, a federal grant provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and through Project Cal-STOP, a federal grant provided by the U.S. Department of Justice. The trainings are also supported by Blue Shield of California’s Blue Sky Initiative and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Monica Nepomuceno, Education Programs Consultant, Educator Excellence and Equity Division, by phone at 916-323-2212 or by email at If you have questions regarding the YMHFA content or how to schedule a training for your staff, please send an email request to


Tony Thurmond

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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