Youth Mental Health First Aid Course


Course Description:  Youth Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common supports.  This 8-hour course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help in a mental health crisis and connect persons to the appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care.  The program also teaches the common risk factors and warning signs of specific types of illnesses, like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

 Participants will learn how to:

  • Assess for risk of suicide and harm
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Target Audience:  Teachers, Coaches, Counselors, School Administrators, Volunteers and Youth Workers who work with Middle School/High School-aged students, Parents and General Public

 Sponsored by Project Aware grant with the Northwest Education Services District (NWESD).

San Juan Island Prevention Coalition thanks the NWESD for bringing this training to San Juan Island as a key component to SJIPC’s Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention efforts through our Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative (CPWI) support system with the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR)!


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Chemicals Found when using Vapes and E-cigs…


What it’s used for:
Formaldehyde is used in all sorts of products such as cabinets, carpets, furniture, glue, hair straighteners, and concrete. But, mostly, it’s known for embalming dead people.

How it affects the body:
Inhaling formaldehyde can make you feel sick, causing symptoms like sore throat, cough, scratchy eyes, and nosebleeds. It’s also known to cause cancer, particularly of the nose and throat.


What it’s used for:
As a liquid, diacetyl gives food products a buttery taste. Enjoy buttered microwave popcorn? That may be diacetyl you’re tasting. In vape juice, it’s used to make a wide variety of flavors such as piña colada, chocolate cake, and vanilla. In a recent study, researchers found diacetyl in more than 75% of the vape liquid they tested.

How it affects the body:
No joke: While it’s been shown that it’s okay to EAT small amounts of diacetyl, inhaling it can cause “popcorn lung,” a serious disease that first affected a group of microwave popcorn factory workers. The disease causes scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs, resulting in wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.


What it’s used for:
You probably use aluminum every day. It’s in foil, soda cans, door frames, hair spray cans, screens, siding, engines, vacuum cleaners, toasters, kitchen utensils…need we go on?

How it affects the body:
Inhaling aluminum has been shown to cause chemical pneumonia—an inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling toxins or poisons. In kids, toxic levels of aluminum have been shown to cause slowed growth and deformed bones


What it’s used for:
Nicotine is found in all forms of tobacco including regular cigarettes, vape liquid, chewing tobacco, and more. It is highly addictive.

How it affects the body:
While other chemicals primarily affect the body, nicotine affects the brain. When you use nicotine products, it’s quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, reaching your brain within seconds.


What it’s used for:
Since ancient times, arsenic has been used as a poison. These days, it’s commonly found in rat poison, pesticide, and treated wood.

How it affects the body:
It’s basic: arsenic is toxic. Low doses can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Larger doses can cause abnormal heart beat, damage to blood vessels, skin warts, a feeling of “pins and needles” on the hands and feet, and death. Inhaling arsenic can lead to lung cancer.


What it’s used for:
Benzene is produced by volcanoes and forest fires and is a byproduct of crude oil production. It’s been used in paints, varnishes, and gasoline, as well as an ingredient in vet medicines that kill parasites2. Tobacco smoke is also a major source of benzene

How it affects the body:
Inhaling benzene can cause dizziness, tremors, confusion, and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Long-term exposure to benzene can cause your body’s cells to not work correctly, damaging things like bone marrow and your immune system. It’s also a carcinogen, which means that it’s known to cause cancer


What it’s used for:

How it affects the body:
Low levels of cadmium can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (FUN!). Inhaled, cadmium dust causes dryness of the throat, choking, headache, and pneumonia-like symptoms. A cadmium poisoning disease called itai-itai, Japanese for “ouch-ouch,” causes aches and pains in the bones and joints.


What it’s used for:
Lead’s been used to make things like pipes, roofing, and paint. It’s also in the heavy apron used to shield people from extra radiation during an x-ray.

How it affects the body:
Two words: Lead poisoning. Lead is known to cause both immediate and long-term health problems, especially in kids. It’s toxic when swallowed, eaten, or inhaled, and can lead to nerve damage, issues with your digestive system, and death1. In young people, significant exposure has been shown to cause a drop in IQ level.


What it’s used for:
You’re probably most familiar with the form of fluorine as the part of toothpaste that helps prevent tooth decay (yay fluoride!). In the chemical world, the gas form of fluorine is known to be extremely reactive. That’s why it’s been used to melt glass and make rocket fuel

How it affects the body:
When inhaled in small amounts, fluorine can cause severe irritation to the respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs). In large amounts, it can cause death.


What it’s used for:
Manganese has been used since ancient times. Cave artists in France used the black ore to paint over 30,000 years ago. Today, the mineral is used to make soda cans, rifle barrels, railroad tracks, and prison bars.

How it affects the body:
Manganese is unsafe when inhaled by people over long periods of time. Excess manganese in the body can cause all sorts of symptoms including hallucinations, forgetfulness, nerve damage, tremors, headaches, and insomnia. It’s also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, impotence in men, and schizophrenia.


What it’s used for:
Wires and plumbing.

How it affects the body:
Real talk: humans need a very small amount of copper in their body to be healthy. But when excess copper enters the body, it can damage major organs like the brain, liver, and kidneys.


What it’s used for:
Silver is used in photography, mirrors, medical equipment—and don’t forget jewelry!

How it affects the body:
Inhaling silver dust can cause breathing problems, lung and throat irritation, and stomach pain. Prolonged exposure to silver dust can cause permanent blue-gray staining of the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, and skin. 

What is Vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor from a device, sometimes called a vape pen or an e-cigarette. The device is filled with vape liquid, it heats up, the liquid is vaporized into millions of tiny droplets, and then inhaled.

What’s in the liquid?

Vape companies call it “juice,” which sounds harmless. They even use fake flavors to make it taste like candy, cakes, and fruit. But it’s not flavored air. And it’s not just water. Vape liquid is a mixture of highly addictive nicotine, potentially harmful chemicals, and other additives that can damage your body.

What’s in the vapor?

The weird thing about vaping is that the vapor almost always contains chemicals that weren’t originally added into the liquid. How can that be? It’s because heating the vape liquid produces dangerous byproducts, including heavy metals like lead, aluminum, and nickel. It’s chemistry at work. And it means that you can’t avoid those chemicals by mixing your own liquid or buying local or organic versions.

But someone’s in charge of vaping to make sure it’s safe, right?

Although the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authority over the manufacturing of vape products that contain nicotine, there is nobody watching what goes into the products that claim to be non-nicotine.  It may be years before the FDA considers regulating chemicals used in vape products.

Wait, what?!  

Just ask the chemicals that have been found in vape liquid and vapor.
We call them The Chemical Crew.

They’re all hardworking with jobs that make sense. But when they find out they’re sometimes getting inhaled via vape liquid, they get upset. Which they should, since they can seriously harm your body. Find out what they’re doing to Escape the Vape!


How to Stop Vaping

Help—I already vape (or smoke)! What should I do?

Don’t stress, it’s never too late to quit.
Quitting smoking or vaping can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Get connected with tools, resources, and encouragement, to help you successfully quit.

I know someone who started vaping to quit smoking—Isn’t vaping better than smoking?

Lots of studies show smoking is harmful. When it comes to vaping, manufacturers don’t yet have to disclose what they put in the liquid, so we don’t know the long-term effects. What we do know is that most vape liquid contains chemicals that can lead to addiction, and may cause cancer and lots of other dangerous—and sometimes weird—symptoms. Bottom line: there are healthier ways to quit.


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Closing Tobacco Tax Loopholes to Help Prevent More Youth from Taking to Tobacco

Sen. Durbin’s Bill to Close Tobacco Tax Loopholes Will Improve Health and Increase Federal Revenues

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Sep. 21 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports the legislation introduced this week by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) to close loopholes and equalize tax rates on all tobacco products. This bill will reduce tobacco use, especially among youth, and increase federal revenues. Since 2009, unequal tax rates and tax loopholes have kept some tobacco products taxed at lower rates than cigarettes, making them more affordable for youth and creating incentives for tax avoidance.

The Tobacco Tax Equity Act proposes to tax all tobacco products – including pipe tobacco, cigars, smokeless tobacco and tobacco products not currently taxed under the federal tax code – at similar rates as cigarettes. We applaud Sen. Durbin for taking action to help the government recover lost tax revenue while improving health and saving lives. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Al Franken (D-MN) joined Sen. Durbin in introducing the legislation.

The evidence is clear that raising tobacco prices through higher taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, especially among children. Creating a more equitable tax system, without loopholes, will prevent young people from starting to use tobacco products and help current users quit.

The current system for taxing tobacco products is neither simple nor equitable. Large cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipe tobacco are taxed at lower rates than cigarettes. These disparities have created opportunities for tobacco manufacturers to change the way they make or label their products so that they qualify for lower tax rates. In particular, roll-your-own tobacco has falsely been labeled as pipe tobacco, and some cigarette and small cigar manufacturers have modified their products so that they can be considered large cigars.

These loopholes allow these products to remain on the market at lower prices, discouraging tobacco users from quitting and encouraging youth to start using them. And the inequities in the tobacco tax system are costly: the Government Accountability Office estimates that, from April 2009 to February 2014, federal revenue losses due to these loopholes range from $2.6 billion to $3.7 billion.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year and costing $170 billion in health care expenditures annually. Sen. Durbin and his colleagues have taken an important step to reduce tobacco’s terrible toll on our nation.

Thank you Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for all your work to keep youth healthy!

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National Survey Shows Soaring Marijuana Use Among All Americans 12 and Older; Heavy Use Also on the Rise by SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

FIRST LOOK: National Survey Shows Soaring Marijuana Use Among All Americans 12 and Older; 
Heavy Use Also on the Rise
National survey highlights jump in pot use among young adults in era of marijuana legalization; 
Almost twice as many adolescents regularly use marijuana than cigarettes 
(Alexandria, Va., September 7, 2017) – Every day, 7,000 new people try marijuana for the first time — a figure far greater than trends seen in the early 2000s, according to the most comprehensive survey on drug use released today by the federal government.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) also found the number of daily or near-daily users of marijuana in 2016 doubled compared to the number of heavy users about a decade ago. Use rose significantly among age groups 12 and up, 18 and up, and 26 and up. Almost twice as many 12-17-year-olds are using pot as compared to cigarettes on a past-month basis. And among those 18 and over, there has been a significant jump in the percent of marijuana users who are unemployed as compared to 2015.
“Big Marijuana – just like Big Tobacco years ago – continues to glorify marijuana as a cure-all that can do little or no harm,” said Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former White House drug policy adviser. “If it wasn’t for marijuana, overall drug use in this country would be going down. Rising mental health issues, drugged driving crashes, and an increasingly stoned workforce won’t help us get ahead. We should put the brakes on marijuana legalization and start a national science-based marijuana awareness campaign similar to successful anti-tobacco campaigns.”
White House Office of National Drug Policy Acting Director Baum announced that NSDUH state-level data, which shows the gulf between use in states with legalized pot versus those with no legalization laws, is expected later this year and not included in this report. The last state estimate report showed Colorado is the #1 state in the country for youth marijuana use.
According to a recent report by SAM, the three states with the most established retail marijuana markets – Colorado, Oregon, and Washington – have seen negative public health and safety consequences, including increased marijuana use and car crashes related to marijuana.
“We shouldn’t incarcerate people for marijuana use, but legalization is promoting a commercial industry driving heavy pot use among young people. We need a smarter approach that focuses on prevention, awareness, and recovery,” said Sabet.
NSDUH also reported a non-significant reduction in marijuana use among 12-17 year-olds versus 2015 and a non-significant increase among 18-25 year-olds versus 2015. However, use is up significantly among young adults 18-25 compared with earlier years. Research has found that marijuana affects the developing brain negatively, and that most people’s brains develop well into their 20s.
SAM will be updating info about NSDUH as we receive the full report.
For more information, please visit
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Tobacco and Youth

Youth use of tobacco in any form is unsafe.

If smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s about 1 of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today.1

Preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in the United States.

  • Tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence.2,3
    • Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and 99% first tried smoking by age 26.1,3
    • Each day in the United States, more than 3,200 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and an additional 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers.3
  • Flavorings in tobacco products can make them more appealing to youth.4
    • In 2014, 73% of high school students and 56% of middle school students who used tobacco products in the past 30 days reported using a flavored tobacco product during that time.
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Learn About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)

Why do you oppose marijuana legalization when alcohol – a more dangerous drug – is already legal?

“Alcohol is not legal because it is safe; it is legal because most of Western civilization has used the drug for thousands of years. By contrast, marijuana has always been used by a small minority of the population. Drug laws keep rates of use down, thereby lowering the negative consequences for communities. Alcohol and tobacco – two legally available drugs – provide a good example, since Americans use them far more frequently than illegal drugs.

Alcohol is in and out of your system within 24 hours; marijuana’s effects last much longer. Research has found that marijuana abusers self-report far worse outcomes than alcohol users, including more problems at home, work, or school and more mental health problems.

Evidence also finds that people often use alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco together. Rarely do users substitute alcohol for marijuana. In fact, rates of alcohol sales continue to rise in states that have legalized marijuana.”


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Oregon Becomes Fifth State to Raise Tobacco Age to 21

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Aug. 9 2017


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon today became the fifth state to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 as Gov. Kate Brown signed the measure into law. The legislature approved the bill last month. In taking this bold step, Oregon will prevent young people from starting to use tobacco, save lives and help make the next generation tobacco-free. We applaud Gov. Brown and the lawmakers who supported this legislation for their strong leadership in fighting tobacco use, the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States.

Oregon’s action provides another major boost for the growing, nationwide movement to increase the tobacco age to 21. Tobacco 21 laws have also been enacted by California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine and at least 255 cities and counties (PDF), including New York City, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, St. Louis and both Kansas Cities. Massachusetts lawmakers should quickly approve similar legislation pending there.

Increasing the tobacco age to 21 will reduce tobacco use among youth and young adults – age groups when nearly all tobacco use begins and that are heavily targeted by the tobacco industry. We know that about 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21. Increasing the tobacco age will help counter the industry’s efforts to target young people at a critical time when many move from experimenting with tobacco to regular smoking. This legislation will also help keep tobacco out of high schools, where younger teens often obtain tobacco products from older students.

A 2015 report by the prestigious Institute of Medicine (now called the National Academy of Medicine) concluded that increasing the tobacco age to 21 will significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking, with immediate and long-term benefits for the nation’s health.

Tobacco use kills over 480,000 Americans and costs the nation about $170 billion in health care bills each year. In Oregon, tobacco kills over 5,500 people and costs over $1.5 billion in health care expenses each year. Without additional action to reduce tobacco use, 68,000 kids alive today in Oregon will die prematurely from smoking. Increasing the tobacco age to 21 is a critical step in reducing and eventually eliminating tobacco’s terrible toll.

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Rock Solid Flash Mob Video 2017

It’s Another Day of Fun with Rock Solid Youth at the Fair! This year’s Flash Mob, Another Day of Sun from La La Land was a crowd-pleaser. We thank Francie Hansen, Coordinator of the Trashion Fashion Show, as she welcomes our youth leaders to share healthy messages during this event. The crowd is always amazing! We also appreciate everyone’s support of our youth, as they seek to find fun and creative ways to share their healthy messages for the San Juan Island Prevention Coalition. DANCE 4 HEALTH! We thank Madrona Jameson and Zach Fincher for leading the team, too!

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DANCE 4 HEALTH Flash Mob at the Fair 2017-Join us!

Watch the video, learn the moves. Don’t want to get up and dance, stand in the crowd and wave your hands to the beat! Thanks for supporting our youth messages for healthy choices! Dance 4 Health!

Saturday, August 19th at 5pm during the Trashion Fashion Show on the Main Stage at the San Juan County Fair!

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The science of THC potency of pot.


July 21, 2017

It’s a challenge that has tested parents for generations:
How do you warn your teens about risky behaviors that you may have engaged in when you were their age? When it comes to marijuana, the key may be the science of THC potency.

Smart Colorado has launched an educational campaign focused on Facebook, a social media site that’s likely to be used by both parents and their teen children.

“The scientific research is clear that marijuana can permanently harm teens’ developing brains,” said Henny Lasley, executive director of Smart Colorado.  “These skyrocketing THC potencies raise the stakes considerably for adolescents. Our educational effort is designed to give parents – including those who have used marijuana – the tools to start a conversation online or in person with their teen children about the very real dangers of today’s ultra-potent marijuana.”
Levels of THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for most of its psychoactive effects, have been growing exponentially as marijuana has been commercialized in Colorado. THC potency averaged just 3.7% THC in the early 1990s.  Parents may recall the nicknames for the low-potency pot of earlier eras: ditch weed, schwag, brick weed. Average potency of flowers/buds in Colorado is now 17.1 percent, according to state research. But marijuana industry websites say strains can reach 30 percent. Concentrates average 62.1 percent but potency rates of up to 95 percent have been recorded, the state reports. Dabbing – heating nearly pure THC concentrates known as wax or shatter with a blowtorch and inhaling the vapor through a dab rig – is increasingly popular. It’s been called the “crack” of pot and “for the first time it seems possible to ‘overdose’ on cannabis,” says marijuana industry website Leafly.The Smart Colorado campaign features a compelling new video that describes the risks ultra-potent marijuana poses to teens.  It specifically highlights dabbing and features insightful interviews with a high school student, his mother, a prosecutor and an adolescent addiction specialist, among others. Watch the video below or view it on Youtube.

Smart Colorado notes that Gov. John Hickenlooper this year told a reporter for “When you’re a teenager, your brain is growing very, very rapidly. The high-THC marijuana we have is so intense in the way it affects your synapses and those parts of your brain that literally every brain scientist I’ve talked to feels there’s a very high probability that, even if you only smoke once a week, this high-THC marijuana, if you’re a teenager, it will take a sliver of your long-term memory forever. That doesn’t come back in two weeks or three weeks. Your brain is growing so fast that the synapses don’t connect so you can’t retrieve information that you remembered.”

We encourage you to check out this campaign and give us your feedback.  Does it provide new information that you find useful in talking to teens, parents or others about today’s highly potent marijuana?


Support Smart Colorado

If you believe in Smart Colorado’s mission, please donate today to support our work. Thousands also have liked Smart Colorado on Facebook to get the latest news about our efforts to protect youth.  You can also engage with us on Twitter.

About Smart Colorado

Smart Colorado is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of Colorado youth as marijuana becomes increasingly available and commercialized. Smart Colorado is a project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center. To learn more about Smart Colorado, please visit:

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