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



Know the facts.

DEFINITION: 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
  3. Combination of ADD and ADHD

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.

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 >>


  • 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 >>

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.



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.

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

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

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)

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 

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.

Visit and access the all new YouthWell Community Resources Directory. You will find youth behavioral health and wellness resources in this resource directory.

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

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 who 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 these issues. The MWC is focused on providing a safe and confidential space 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 and confidential place. Learn and practice self-management skills for better self-regulation. Drop-ins are welcome.

Wellness Connection Program
The Wellness Connection is a high school leadership program of the Mental Wellness Center that educates, empowers, and engages students. Students raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health by promoting self-care, connection, kindness, education, prevention, and outreach amongst their peers.

In Fall of 2020, the Wellness Connection welcomed more than 50 local high school students to their leadership council from high schools throughout Santa Barbara County.

To learn more about the Wellness Connection Program at the Mental Wellness Center, visit

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 and Adolescents)
Mom Group - Meets Mondays at 10:00 AM (Spanish Group), Tuesdays at 12:00 PM (for moms) and Wednesdays at 6:30 PM (for all caregivers).

SPOT is a safe space for caregivers of teens and young adults to connect with other caregivers who might also be struggling in parenting a child with mental health challenges. We listen, support, and gain perspective in what is in our control and what is not. Facilitated discussion on emotional intelligence, coping strategies, and mindfulness is all incorporated during our time together.

For more information and to participate in SPOT, please contact Mental Wellness Center Family Advocate, Ramona Winner, at: 805-884-8440 ext. 3206, You must contact Ramona first to receive ZOOM link. If you are interested in joining the SPOT Spanish Group for Moms, please contact Isis Castaneda at: 805-448-0920.

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


Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Teen 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. For more information visit

NAMI Santa Barbara County

Family-to-Family Educational Classes
This 8-week course (in English and Spanish) 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

4th Thursday Speaker Presentations
NAMI Santa Barbara County offers free monthly presentations with dynamic speakers on topics of local interest related to mental health. Visit to learn more and see a full listing of NAMI Santa Barbara County offerings including upcoming groups and classes.


The Mental Wellness Center (MWC) lending library provides books for independent learning available for loan to MWC clients and their families.

The collection covers a wide variety of topics related to mental health and wellness and 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.

The MWC Library Online Catalog is available for free online, click the button below to access. 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 your Support Group Facilitator to register as a library patron and obtain information on library procedures.