About 26 percent of women and 15 percent of men will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime before age 18, according to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Nearly 1 in 11 female high school students and 1 in 14 male high school students reported experiencing physical dating violence in the last year.
In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Youthwell—a Santa Barbara County mental health awareness nonprofit—will focus its monthly mental wellness workshop on building healthy relationships, said Youthwell Executive Director Rachael Steidl.
“We give students and parents the tools to take care of themselves in their relationships, and how to notice red flags as well as tools to support those in intimate violence,” Steidl said.
Youthwell’s workshops focus on different topics impacting mental health. The organization works with county school districts and with 50 mental health organizations to identify important conversations, Steidl said.
On Oct. 24, Youthwell’s Zoom workshop will feature panelists from Domestic Violence Solutions, North County Crisis Center, and the Pacific Pride Foundation to discuss gender norms and stereotypes for the LGBTQ-plus community, men’s expectations, consent, and toxic relationships, she said.
It’s easy for people to say relationship conversations don’t apply to them, Steidl said, but it’s the everyday relationships that are more damaging down the road.
“We’re talking about family relationships, friendships, professional relationships, and intimate relationships. We understand that not everybody is in an intimate relationship, but everyone has had some form of relationship in their life,” Steidl said.
This workshop’s open for 12- to 25-year-olds along with parents, teachers, and caregivers.
“If we are educating our students, parents need to work alongside them,” Steidl said. “These workshops are geared toward students, but if parents are learning alongside, then they can help in these conversations. As adults, we need to model it ourselves.”
There’s value in sitting down and participating in the workshop as a family, she said. Families can log on to Zoom all together or from separate laptops for the participants’ comfort, but Streidl finds it to be more eye-opening when everyone in the family participates.
Youthwell opened the conversations up to younger students because they’re at an age when bullying often begins and when students start forming real relationships with their peers, Steidl said.
“There’s so many long-term repercussions when it comes to the trauma of that person, learning earlier and learning that it’s OK to ask for help will give people the chance to get the tools and support they need,” she said.
The Youthwell team and panel will finish with a discussion about stepping in to help others.
“So often when working with young people, the response is, ‘I don’t know how to step in,’ or, ‘I don’t know if I should say anything,’” she said. “In this workshop, we are going to be talking about what it means to be an ‘upstander.’ An upstander is someone who takes action when the easiest choice is to do nothing.”
By recognizing the signs of intimate violence—and knowing where and how to report intimate violence—it’s easier to speak out against it, Steidl said.
Outside of mental wellness workshops, Youthwell provides Mental Health First Aid, which gives parents and anybody working with young people the tools they need to help those struggling with mental health issues. Youthwell also has a mental health services directory, which lists all of the mental-health-related resources in Santa Barbara County, Steidl said.
“We don’t have enough resources to meet the needs of our county. That was one of the reasons we came up with the directory; it’s one location for a variety of services,” Steidl said. “If we don’t have enough services, the best thing we can do is educate ourselves because it changes the conversation, it takes away the stigma and makes it OK to talk about mental health.”
Registration will remain open until the day of the workshop. The program runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and it’s free to sign up. Spanish interpretation will be provided. People with questions can call (805) 448-2426.
• The Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department and the People for Leisure and Youth (PLAY) Inc. invite contestants and the community to the inaugural Battle of the Badges Competition: a community softball tournament benefiting PLAY Inc. This coed community softball tournament is open to all service clubs, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and teams made up of family and friends. The tournament starts at 10 a.m. Oct. 23 at Hagerman Sports Complex—3300 Skyway Drive—and costs $100 per team. To participate in the tournament, people can register online at santamariaatplay.org.
Participants can call the Recreation and Parks Department at (805) 925-0951, Ext. 2260, with any questions.
Taylor O’Connor wrote this week’s Spotlight. You can reach her at [email protected].