Community Education

FREE community education courses for the public are made possible by the voter-approved Mental Health Service Act (Prop 63).


Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is a groundbreaking public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

Mental Health First Aid is offered in the form of an interactive 8-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S. and introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and reviews common treatments. Those who take the 8-hour course to become certified as Mental Health First Aiders learn a 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

The 8-hour Mental Health First Aid USA course has benefited a variety of audiences and professions, including: primary care professionals, employers and business leaders, faith communities, school personnel and educators, state police and corrections officers, nursing home staff, mental health authorities, state policymakers, volunteers, young people, families and the general public.

Certified instructors are available to provide training on-site for group of 15-30 people. To attend a FREE, local Mental Health First Aid course (MHFA) or to host a MHFA course at your location, contact Natalie Andrade at or (650)372-8548.

To learn more about MHFA, download the brochure or visit Mental Health First Aid USA

Youth Mental Health First Aid

The new Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) course is an 8-hour public education training program designed for any adult working with or assisting young people, ages 12-24. The course focuses on how to help a young person who may be experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. Participants are introduced to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents and learn the importance of early intervention as well as how to help a youth in a crisis or non-crisis situation who is experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.

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 Youth Mental Health First Aid certification training to all schools throughout the county. School staff in all capacities typically form bonds and establish rapport with students and can play an instrumental in a student getting the help they need. Classroom teachers, school site administrators, school office personnel, coaches, bus drivers, afterschool providers, parents, teacher's aides, school health aides, yard duty staff, crossing guards and other school personnel are strongly encouraged to become Youth Mental Health First Aiders. Through school-based YMHFA training, campus communities can help bridge a student in crisis to the appropriate help they need.

See how it helped a local teacher who took the training:

See what other school personnel are saying about the San Mateo County Youth Mental Health First Aid Training (videos):

Upcoming YMHFA training:

Thursday, April 28, 2016
8:00 am – 4:30 pm
San Mateo County Office of Education
101 Twin Dolphin Drive
Redwood City, CA 94065

Register here and view the flyer.

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 Natalie Andrade at or (650)372-8548.

To learn more about YMHFA trainings, download the brochure and program flyer or visit Mental Health First Aid USA.

The Parent Project®

The Parent Project® is a free, 12-week course that is offered in English and Spanish to anyone who cares for a child or adolescent. The classes meet for three hours each week.  Parents learn parenting skills and get information about resources and other support available in their communities. Parents/caregivers learn and practice skills such as:

  • appropriate ways to discipline
  • preventing or stopping alcohol, drug and tobacco use
  • improving communication skills
  • improving grades and school attendance


Here's what one parent said after taking the course:

I am a single parent of two teenagers. When I thought my children’s lives were at risk, I felt lonely with no answers to all the problems in our lives. I took the parent project class when my children were struggling, and I finally found hope. This class will help parents have a better relationship with their children, and help them succeed.
- Yolanda R.


Upcoming Parent Project Classes:

Fall 2016 Class Scheduling Coming Soon
To sign up for a specific class, please visit Please note that signing up online does not guarantee your registration as space is limited. The facilitator will contact you to confirm your spot on the sign up list. 

For more information download the brochure (English,Spanish) and the Program Flyer. The County will provide childcare and dinner for evening classes. To learn more about the Parent Project course, to register for a class, or to host a class for your organization/group, please contact Maggie Furey at

Health Ambassador Program

As a community member with knowledge and experience, you can make a difference in the lives of families, friends, neighbors, and other members in your community who may be experiencing symptoms of a mental illness and/or a substance use problem. Health Ambassadors are individuals who are committed to helping to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals in their community and complete the Health Ambassador Program.

Health Ambassador Opportunities:

  • Teach youth and adult courses in your community.
  • Assist in identifying needs in your community and helping to make a change.
  • Share your thoughts with the County of San Mateo about wellness in your community.
  • Work with other dedicated individuals. Participate in various volunteer opportunities.


San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) Health Ambassador Program (HAP) was created in recognition of the important role that community members serve in effectively reaching out to others. For more information see the brochure: English, Spanish or contact Maria Lorente-Foresti at