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    Monday, July 22, 2019-7:16:50P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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May is Children’s Mental Health Month

TO promote the importance of mental health among children and youth, Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios on Thursday signed a proclamation designating May as Children’s Mental Health Month.

Students from Francisco M. Sablan Middle School and Dandan Middle School attended the proclamation signing in the FMS cafeteria.

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Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios on Thursday signs a proclamation designating May as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month. Looking on are first lady Diann Torres and CHCC-CGC Director Reyna M. Saures.
2018 Miss Marianas Celine Cabrera joins the students at Francisco M. Sablan Middle School in witnessing the proclamation signing for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month.
Sharina Clark, social marketing coordinator of the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Program.
Vina Ayuyu, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation-Community Guidance Center’s Systems of Care program manager.  Photos by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

The proclamation recognized the critical responsibility of the community to provide comprehensive, coordinated mental health services for children, youth and families.

“Addressing the complex mental health needs of children, youth and families today is fundamental to the future of the CNMI,” the proclamation stated.

According to Vina Ayuyu, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.-Community Guidance Center’s Systems of Care program manager, “Today, we have more resources and services available in our community than we ever had before.”

She said Dandan Middle School, Francisco M. Sablan Middle School and Dr. Rita Inos Jr.Sr. School have been the recipients of a pilot program called Natural Helper. Students are trained to help administer mental-health first-aid to those who portray obvious symptoms of mental health problems.

The CGC prevention unit, she added, has been actively providing prevention, education and outreach activities for the youth.

Ayuyu said the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention program is providing suicide prevention and intervention services while the Systems of Care program has been providing mental health services and support for children and youth with severe emotional challenges.

Garrett Lee Smith social marketing coordinator Sharina Clark said the program has provided services to 89 consumers and provided training opportunities to over 900 CNMI residents through “Question, Persuade, Refer, and Apply” suicide intervention skills training.

She said they also provided suicide prevention presentations to over 1,500 students.

In addition, the Community Guidance Center will introduce the health transition program to help the youth successfully transition into adult roles.

“The availability of these resources in the community means that we are not only just recognizing the needs of our children’s mental health, but we are taking action to ensure that we address these important needs,” Ayuyu said.

She noted more agencies, community and government leaders as well as family members have been working to achieve collective mental health goals.

“All these improvements are helping us break barriers, and are helping us to create a healthier environment for those who seek help,” Ayuyu said.

She advised the students to reach out for help. “Seek out those you trust and connect with available resources,” she added.

“It is our hope that one day, no disparities will exist between physical health and mental health — that we will all be stronger than stigma and realize that there is no shame in seeking help,” Clark said.