Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has been diagnosed in 10.2% of children, aged 4-17.
- US Centers for Disease Control



Know the facts.

definition • adhd

DEFINITION: Having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects the ability to pay attention in a focused way, think clearly, complete tasks, and control behavior, like sitting still.

There are different types of ADHD:

  1. Attention deficit type
  2. Hyperactive and impulsive type

ADHD is the most common mental health diagnosis for children.

Everyone has difficulty concentrating sometimes, but for those with ADHD, it may interfere with their life.

symptoms • signs

People with ADHD may have one symptom or a combined set of symptoms.

Symptoms of attention deficit:
A person with attention deficit might...

  • be easily distracted, miss details, forget things
  • frequently switch from one activity to another
  • have trouble completing homework,
  • often lose things like pencils, books, and keys
  • not seem to be listening when people are speaking to them
  • have difficulty organizing

Symptoms of hyperactivity and/or impulsivity:
A person with hyperactivity or impulsivity might...

  • have trouble sitting still during dinner, school or work
  • fidget, or tap hands and feet, or squirm in their seat
  • be unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly
  • talk excessively
  • have difficulty waiting their turn
  • often blurt out inappropriate comments, or interrupt the conversations or activities of others
  • show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
  • act aggressively

Learning how to relax and slow down, getting enough sleep and regular exercise are important habits to practice.

Reducing screen time and increasing outdoor activities can be beneficial.

Taking medication prescribed by a psychiatrist and working with a mental health professional can help those who have ADHD to focus and concentrate.

Family and friends can also provide important support. 

Participating in solo sport activities such as swimming, running, biking or tennis can help people with ADHD focus.

Some people find yoga or quiet meditation to be calming.

Learn more about Self Care & Wellness >>

providing support


  • Understand that people with ADHD tend to be very bright, but may not do well in school.
  • Take good notes and share them.
  • Text them reminders (test dates, field trips)


  • Educate yourself about the disorder.
  • Listen to your friend when they want to talk.
  • Keep checking in with your friend.
  • Use 1st person language. Say,
    “My friend has ADHD.” not “My friend is hyper.”
  • Reassure your friend of your support and understanding.


  • “It’s not your fault.”
  • “I’m listening.”
  • “I am here for you.”
  • “It’s the illness that causes these thoughts and feelings.”
  • “This must be really difficult for you.”


  • “It’s all in your head.”
  • “What’s wrong with you?”
  • “Get over yourself, you have no reason to feel that way.”
  • “Shouldn’t you be better by now?”


  • ...tell a friend to “Snap out of it!”
  • ...diagnose.
  • ...gossip.
  • ...take your friend’s withdrawal personally.

Find additional information on our Mental Health Disorders page and other suggestions on our Understanding Stigma page >>

test your knowledge

Can you answer these questions?

  1. What is ADHD?
  2. How common is ADHD?
  3. Describe the three symptom types of ADHD.
  4. What treatments are available for people who have ADHD?
  5. What can you do to support someone with ADHD?
  6. How do you think stigma might affect a person with ADHD?

*Hint: Read the ADHD facts at the top of this page to find the answers for 1-5. And view our Understanding Stigma page for question #6.

additional information for parents



This is What It's Really Like to Have ADHD
7 Everyday Struggles Of People With ADHD
How to Know if You Have ADHD
What It Feels Like To Have ADHD


Know the facts.

myth #1: Children can outgrow ADHD

Fact: If untreated ADHD continues into adulthood.

There are many things that can help children with ADHD grow up to lead very productive lives as adults.

They can identify and develop their strengths.

They can structure environments to be less distracting. They may need to take prescribed medication.

In some careers, having a high-energy behavior pattern can be an asset.                            

- Adapted from

myth #2: ADHD is not a real disorder

Fact: Studies suggest that ADHD is a chronic disorder that can have a negative impact on virtually every aspect of daily social, emotional, academic and work functioning. (Barkely, 1998)

- National Resource Center on ADHD

myth #3: ADHD is caused by moral failure, bad parenting, poor teachers, too much sugar or TV

Fact: ADHD is not anyone's fault. Research findings conclude that many ADHD cases have a genetic component.

The factors that appear to increase a child's likelihood of the disorder include gender, family history, prenatal risks, environmental toxins and physical differences in the brain.

- Adapted from ADHD Awareness (October 2015)

myth #4: People who have ADHD are stupid or lazy - they never amount to anything

Fact: People with ADHD are not lazy. In fact, people with ADHD are typically very smart, although they may not do well in school because it is difficult for them to focus their attention.

The list of high-achieving business executives with ADHD include

  • David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways and
  • Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko's

- Adapted from 

myth #5: Only kids who are hyper have ADHD

Fact: People with ADHD may instead exhibit symptoms of impulsivity or inattention.

Some people with ADHD have a combination of symptoms.

Others with ADHD may be able to sit still for long periods of time, but their brains are so active that they cannot concentrate or focus their attention. 

- Adapted from information on the NIMH website on ADHD



It's OK to ask for help.
Talk to a trusted adult.

resources, crisis phone & text hotlines

Visit to find local Santa Barbara County mental health resources.

If you or someone you know has harmed themselves or is in immediate risk of harm CALL 911 immediately.

SAFTY ~ Safe Alternatives for Treating Youth 

  • 888-334-2777 - SAFTY is a mobile crisis response service available daily 8am-8pm, providing crisis intervention, phone, and in-home support, and linkage to mental health services. Available to all SB County youth, age 0-20, regardless of insurance or ability to pay. 

Crisis Text Line

  • Text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling.
    Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information via text. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds quickly.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • 1-800-273-TALK (8255)  or  ONLINE LIVE CHAT
    24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call is routed to the nearest crisis center in the national network of 150+ crisis center


youth wellness connection clubs

YWC Clubs are campus-based and open to all 9th-12th grade students. Club ambassadors are upstanders that raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health by promoting self-care and kindness through connection, prevention, education & outreach activities!


  • Meetings are weekly at lunch...
    [MON] DPHS & SMHS and [WED] CHS & SBHS.
  • Club meetings are an opportunity to make connections, participate in campus leadership, earn volunteer hours, and make a difference in changing your campus culture.
  • YWC Clubs conduct monthly wellness campaigns and events on campus in collaboration with other clubs and campus resources. The YOU MATTER campaigns are all about celebrating every person's value and worth!  This includes our students, our teachers, and families in our community. The goal of the YWC is to help students remember that their life matters, that we care about them and that it is OK to ask for help. There are support resources available on campus and in our community.

If students are interested in receiving a reminder when meetings are being held on their campus, they can go to YWC website to join OR...

  • Get club reminders by TEXTING PHONE #: 81010
    and then text the code for your school...

    • CHS: @carpYWC
      or click link CHS
    • DPHS: @dpYWC
      or click link DPHS
    • SBHS: @sbYWC
      or click link SBHS
    • SMHS: @smYWC
      or click link SMHS
    • and then press SEND



mental wellness center resources

Learning about mental health is the first step to wellness. The Mental Wellness Center (MWC) can help families find medical and professional care, as well as teach important skills on how to manage your mental health. Many families in our community have teenagers that are struggling with depression, anxiety, ADHD and other mental health issues. It can be overwhelming as a parent to find support for your teenager and difficult to talk about. The MWC is focused on providing a safe and confidentialspace for families to connect with others, access community resources and get the support your family needs.


Keeping Connected Group
Come discuss life, work on communication and social skills and enjoy time with your peers! This weekly group brings together teens, 14-18, to learn emotion management in a fun, safe place. Learn and practice self-management skills for better self-regulation. Drop-ins are welcome.

YOUTH Wellness Connection • COUNCIL & Clubs
The YWC Council is a high school leadership program that educates, empowers and engages students. We bring students together from multiple schools that are interested in serving in a leadership role in the YWC Clubs on their campuses. They design monthly wellness campaigns for their campuses to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health by promoting self-care, connection, and kindness.

Mental Health Matters • 6th & 9th GRADE CLASSES
MHM teaches basic facts about mental health to sixth and ninth grade students in the classroom. Instructors talk about stigma and how it affects our perceptions of mental illness and taking care of ourselves. Students learn the facts, including symptoms and warning signs, of specific mental health disorders.


SPOT ~ Support for Parents of Teens
A peer support group for parents and caregivers of teens, 12-26, struggling with mental health or substance abuse from crisis to aftercare. Parents can connect with others, gain tools, find resources, and learn to manage their children’s needs without sacrificing their own. There are weekly groups to accommodate busy schedules.

  • Drop-ins are welcome.
  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:30pm for moms
  • Evening group for parents and caregivers

Family Advocate
The MWC Family Advocate can assist families and provide assistance in understanding and navigating the local public and private mental health systems and on how to access various clinical and support services available in our community and we offer one-on-one support in times of crisis. 805.884.8440 x3206


Mental Health First Aid
This 8-hour course is offered monthly at the MWC and teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. It also teaches an action plan to use in a psychiatric emergency. This course can be customized and provided on-site in schools and organizations.

4th Thursday Speaker Presentations
MWC offers with the Southern SB County NAMI Chapter presentations with dynamic speakers on topics of local interest related to mental health. View the MWC calendar on our website for upcoming speakers and panels.

NAMI • Family-to-Family Educational Classes
This 12-week course helps families better understand how their family member experiences their illness, how to best support the recovery process and how to better cope with the impact on the entire family. Contact the MWC Family Advocate to inquire or reserve a place in the next series. 805.884.8440 x3206

mental wellness center Library

The MWC Library Online Catalog is freely available on the internet. Simply input “MWC Library” as the library name; no password is required.

You may check out the library collection during MWC open hours or formal meeting periods. Contact the MWC Receptionist or your Support Group Facilitator to register as a Library patron and obtain information on Library procedures.

For further information, please contact MWC Librarian:

One of the very best ways to deal with issues, experiences, and uncertainties surrounding mental health disorders is to become informed and increase your knowledge. The Library at the Mental Wellness Center provides books for independent learning available for loan to MWC clients and client families.

The collection covers a wide variety of topics related to mental health and wellness. It contains books on a range of mental health disorders including ADD/ADHD, anxiety disorders, bipolar mood disorder, depression, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. Materials on client and family coping and survival strategies, drug abuse in dual diagnosis, and suicide are also available. You will also find a limited selection of materials on psychopharmacology, memoirs, some relevant fiction, and a small collection of books written for children and teens.