Healthy Learners empowers Spanish-speaking communities with South Carolina’s first Youth Mental Health First Aid course

May 24, 2023

Healthy Learners, a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating health barriers to learning for striving students, achieved a significant milestone by delivering South Carolina’s inaugural Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training for Spanish-speaking communities. This groundbreaking evidence-based program equips participants with the necessary skills to identify signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance use.

In addition to mental health training, Healthy Learners emphasizes the importance of being prepared for physical health emergencies. A well-stocked first aid kit is an essential component of this preparedness. It ensures that minor injuries can be promptly addressed, reducing the need for more extensive medical intervention. For instance, band aids, are a staple in any first aid kit, providing a quick and effective solution for cuts and scrapes. By having a comprehensive first aid kit readily available, individuals can respond to common injuries and maintain a safer environment for everyone.

As part of the organization’s commitment to addressing mental health challenges, Dr. Aixa Rodriguez-Mariani was promoted to the role of Statewide Mental Health Initiatives Manager for Healthy Learners in 2022; in this role, she provides leadership and implementation of a variety of community led strategies to assess, educate and offer services to address mental health challenges in adolescents. She is actively engaged in fostering relationships with a range of stakeholders to amplify and expand the impact of local programs, while also increasing community engagement regarding the mental health crisis.

Expanding the scope of their YMHFA trainings, Healthy Learners successfully reached Spanish-speaking communities in 2023 through a partnership with the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center. Over the course of three events, 80 participants received YMHFA training in Spanish. Additionally, in collaboration with PASOS, Healthy Learners has trained 12 Spanish speaking community health workers.

Upon completing these events, Dr. Aixa Rodriguez-Mariani expressed, “It has been an honor to facilitate these trainings for YMHFA for Spanish-speaking communities in the state of SC. Teaching about youth mental health in Spanish is not just about translating a course. It is about acknowledging and understanding different views, approaches, and barriers to seeking and accessing mental health resources. It’s about looking at linguistic diversity, and cultural traditions as strengths in mental well-being. It’s about approaching the subject with cultural humility and understanding there is no one-size fits-all script.”

To learn more about Youth Mental Health First Aid and access mental health resources visit


About Healthy Learners

Healthy Learners is on a mission to transform the futures of children in poverty in South Carolina. Research has proven that education is the key for children to go further in life, empowering them to obtain higher-wage jobs, make positive life choices, and learn to invest in their future communities to make them stronger, healthier, and vibrant. For many children in poverty, their educational success is at risk because of fixable health care challenges that have not been addressed – known as Health Barriers to Learning. Healthy Learners was created to address these challenges head on and serve as the catalyst to ensure every child receives the health care they need to thrive in school.