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Youth Mental Health First Aid
Become a YMHFAider - 2,432 YMFAiders trained!

General information

Hosted by The Office of Diversity and Equity 

The Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) course is an 6-8-hour public education training program designed for any adult working with or assisting young people, ages 12-18. The course focuses on how to help a young person who may be experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.

Participants will learn:

  • How to help a youth in a crisis or non-crisis situation who is experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge
  • Unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents
  • The importance of early intervention
  • A 5-Step Action Plan

The San Mateo County Office of Education has partnered with San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity to offer free YMHFA certification training to all schools throughout the county. Through school-based YMHFA training, campus communities can help bridge a student in crisis to the appropriate help they need.

To take a course or to host a course at your location, contact Sylvia Tang at or 650-578-7165.

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Certified instructors are available to provide FREE training on-site for groups of 15-30. To attend a FREE, local Youth Mental Health First Aid course or to host a YMHFA course at your location, contact Sylvia Tang at or 650-578-7165.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should become a Mental Health First Aider?

Any adult who works and interacts with youth ages 12-18. Classroom teachers, school site administrators, school office personnel, coaches, bus drivers, afterschool providers, teacher’s aides, school health aides, yard duty staff, crossing guards, parents, faith communities, and the general community are strongly encouraged to become Youth Mental Health First Aiders. School staff in all capacities typically form bonds and establishes rapport with students and can play an instrumental role in a student getting the help they need.

How long is the Youth Mental Health First Aid training

The Youth Mental Health First Aid training is 8 hours which may be live instruction or a mix of self-paced course and live instruction. Participants must attend the entire 8 hours to become certified. 

Can we shorten or condense the training?

No. The evidence-based program is designed to run for 8 hours. 

Can the training be split into 2 parts?

Yes. The training can be offered in a variety of formats. Most often, the training is provided in one 8 hour day, or in two 4-hour sessions spaced over a short period of time. 

How large is the class size?

The training can accommodate a class size of 15 to 30 individuals.

Is the program evidence-based?

Yes. In July 2013, the federal government added Mental Health First Aid to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Mental Health First Aid has strong evidence backing it. Data from three quantitative and one qualitative studies has shown that the program improves people’s mental health, increases understanding of mental health issues and treatments, connects more people with care, and reduces stigma.

Do I receive a certificate for completing the course?

Yes. Participants will receive a certificate after completing the course. The certification expires in three years from the day participants were trained. 

What is included in the training?

Manuals and materials are provided free of cost.

Do I have to pay to attend?

No, the training is free of cost. 

Is the course offered in other languages?

The course is offered in English, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin. 

How do I register for a training?

To register for a training, please fill out our online application. To register, contact Sylvia Tang at (650) 578-7165 or 

How can I bring the training to my work site?

Certified instructors are available to provide free training to groups of 15-30. If interested, please contact Sylvia Tang, (650) 578-7165 or