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CNMI certifies more mental health first aid providers

Representatives from the CNMI Superior Court’s Office of Adult Probation and the CNMI Substance Abuse, Addictions & Rehabilitation Program partake in Adult Mental Health First Aid.

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Saipan-- The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation Community Guidance Center (CGC) certified nine additional individuals on Oct. 27 in Adult Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).

The agencies represented included the CNMI Superior Court’s Office of Adult Probation and the CNMI Substance Abuse, Addictions & Rehabilitation Program.

The groundbreaking skills-based course teaches participants the tools to identify, understand, and respond to someone who might be struggling with a mental health or substance use challenge, and connect them with appropriate support and resources when necessary. Friends and family members may find it hard to know when and how to step in, and as a result, those in need of mental health services often do not receive care until much later.

But just as CPR helps those without medical training assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

The CGC has certified a total of 1,168 individuals in the CNMI, Palau and Guam in either the MHFA youth curriculum, adult curriculum, or both.

The next scheduled public training for Mental Health First Aid is Nov. 18 on Rota.

In an earlier email, CHC communications director Guillermo Lifoifoi said additional mental health professionals will address an increase in the number of referrals for direct services, such as therapy, wraparound care, received between System of Care and Healthy Transitions.

"As of mid-September, System of Care received 95 referrals and Healthy Transitions received 42 referrals, totaling 137 so far this year. In 2020, CGC's System of Care and Healthy Transitions program received and responded to 73 referrals, Lifoifoi said.

He noted that the data only pertains to the two programs, and not CGC overall.

"With that said, SOC-HT is seeing an increase in referrals compared to last year," he said. "With regard to the pandemic and the impact it has had on mental health in CNMI, data is still being analyzed."

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