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Santa Barbara County launches campaign supporting youth mental health: “It’s OK not to be OK”

Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness Facebook

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – County officials announced the launch of a new campaign "It's OK not to be OK" in an effort to support youth mental health, according to the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness.

The county said this campaign will focus on mental health and substance misuse from the perspective of Santa Barbara County youth.

"This issue is as prevalent as ever as we continue to see the effect the pandemic has had on youth mental health," said the county.

Behavioral Wellness said local youth came together for the campaign to discuss and normalize conversations around mental health issues in schools and the community.

As part of the initiative, seven local youths opened up about their mental health journeys and encouraged others to ask for help when they need it through an OK Youth Roundtable video series.

“Parents should create an environment that is a safe space for their kids so they can trust them with anything and everything, including mental health,” said one Ok Roundtable youth, Kiara.

County officials said they pulled new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stating that in 2021, 37% of high school students reported poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.

Following the pandemic, the county said that over 5,000 local residents responded to a community survey, and approximately 61% of those survey participants reported worse mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Victor, another Ok Roundtable youth, said, "It's important to open up about mental health because if you don't it's gonna build up in your head. ‘It's okay to not be okay’ just normalizes not being okay, because it happens to everyone. It's okay to be anxious. It's okay to be nervous because everyone gets those feelings. It happens. It's a normal thing. It’s okay.”

"The goal for the ‘It’s OK not to be OK’ campaign is to create a space for youth to open up about their struggles with mental health, substance misuse, anxiety, stress, and to find resources and healthy ways to cope," said Melissa Wilkins, Branch Chief of Alcohol and Drug Programs with Behavioral Wellness.

To find more information about the It’s OK not to be OK campaign, see the official launch of the website at on Wednesday, April 5.

The county said this website features a youth campus of resources, ways to connect and videos to relate to other youth going through similar life challenges.

To learn more about Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness, click here.

For assistance with accessing Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness services, you can call the 24/7 toll free Crisis Response and Services Access Line at 888-868-1649

Article Topic Follows: Health

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