Mental wellness is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
World Health Organization


practicing wellness and self care

Discover tools to help you improve your mental wellness.

Mental health is about creating a lifestyle of balance and reducing the impact of long term stress.

Stress is a natural part of life and can be a positive motivation for a person to perform well (a test, a presentation, an athletic event).

Stress can also be negative and debilitating. Stress can be triggered by different life challenges, and what is stressful for one person may not be stressful for another.

It is important to recognize what causes stress for you, especially the negative kind.

What causes you to feel stressed out?

There are many different ways to handle stress:

  • Meditating
  • Wellness breathing
  • Playing an instrument or listening to music
  • Writing in a journal
  • Creating a piece of art
  • Doing physical exercise
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Talking to a trusted friend/adult

There are 4 important dimensions to wellness: physical, social, mental and spiritual.

  1. Physical wellness includes health skills such as good nutrition and fitness.
    • Good diet, sleep, and exercise
    • Take breaks so you can recharge
    • Spend less time on digital devices, social media, screens
    • Avoid tobacco products and other harmful substances

  2. Social wellness includes communication skills that help us communicate with others in positive ways.
    • Spend time with friends
    • Build healthy relationships
    • Ask for help when needed
    • Set a daily routine
    • Try new things
    • Volunteer

  3. Mental wellness includes self-awareness and managing emotions.
    • Allow yourself to feel your full range of emotions without judgement
    • Create dedicated “me” time
    • Give yourself daily positive affirmations
    • Do things that bring you joy (play, read, sing, doodle, cook, watch a movie)
    • Practice gratitude. Find 3 things each day that are good in your life
    • Surround yourself with people who lift you up.
    • Talk to someone when you need support (a friend, counselor, teacher, therapist)

  4. Spiritual wellness includes grounding or mindfulness practices.
    • Learn to be in the moment
    • Create work/school-life balance
    • Define your values and live by them
    • Set healthy boundaries and clear priorities for yourself
    • Get in touch with your inner spirit
    • Spend time in nature
    • Find purpose and meaning

It is important to make regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.Stay active and spend time outside walking, hiking, biking, swimming, surfing, or dancing.

Mayo Clinic recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly - that’s only 21 minutes each day! Exercise should include:

  • Aerobics
  • Strength training
  • Flexibility/Stretching

Good nutrition and healthy food is important to maintain mental health.

Things to consider:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Cut back on soda, and sugar
  • Limit bad fats
  • Increase vegetables

We all need to get good sleep to help our brains refresh and recharge.
Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night to function at their best.

Suggestions to help with your sleep routine:

  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Make your room a restful environment - cool, 66 degrees, dark, quiet
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Avoid caffeine after noon (tea/coffee, soda, chocolate)
  • Wake up at the same time every day
  • Avoid screen time an hour before bedtime



Change the conversation.

Try these phrases when engaging in conversation with your teen so that they feel heard.

    “Can you tell me more?”
    “When did this happen?”
    “Let me see if I understand what you said…”
    “I can see you are feeling very angry right now.”
    “Why____?” What would you like to see happen?”
    “I see it this way___. How do you see it?
    “I would like your advice on how we can resolve this.”
    “How would you feel if it were you?
    “Many people feel the way you do.”
    “I can appreciate why you feel that way.”
    “I understand that you feel___ when I/she/he____”
    “I appreciate your willingness to______”

Supportive friends and family can play an important role in the mental health recovery process. Remember that a person cannot just “snap out of it.” 

Be willing to listen. 

  • DO allow your friend to talk about his or her mental health diagnosis.
  • DO NOT give advice or try to make it seem that their concerns are not real or are just a phase.
  • DO NOT share your friend's personal information, thoughts or feelings with others, unless your friend intends to hurt himself/herself or others, then call 911!

Don't give up if your friend pulls away.

  • People with mental health disorders sometimes withdraw from family and friends. Understand that this may happen because they are scared and that their brain is not working the way it used to. Therefore, it is important to keep trying to spend time with them by hanging out, studying or just talking. Doing this may help them realize that you are there for them and that you care.

Learn as much about mental health disorders and wellness as you can.

  • Knowledge is powerful and can help you to know what you might expect from your friend.         

Pay it forward!

  • Help bust stigma by educating friends and family about mental health disorders.

Your words matter! Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, understanding, and respect, NOT with negative, judgmental, or hurtful words. Think about what you might say. You want to reassure your friend of your support and understanding.

HELPFUL things to say...

  • Are you okay?
  • I have time to talk.
  • How can I support you?

  • I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain.

  • I wanted to check in with you, you haven’t seemed yourself lately.

  • You are not alone in this. I am here for you.

  • Have you thought about getting help?

  • You are important to me.

  • I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and I can listen.

  • It's not your fault.

  • This must be really difficult for you.

  • I'm listening.

  • Use person first language: It is better to say…
    “My friend has schizophrenia”
    than to say, 
    “My friend is schizophrenic.”

HURTFUL things to say...

  • It's all in your head.
  • What's wrong with you?
  • Shouldn't you be better by now?
  • Just snap out of it!



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

Visit YouthWell.org 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 wcclubs.org.

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, rwinner@mentalwellnesscenter.org. 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 bethedifferencesb.org.

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 namisantabarbara.org 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.