When Community Guidance Center director Reina Saures asked who in the room is stressed during yesterday’s proclamation signing of October as Behavioral Health Month, Gov. Eloy S. Inos gamely held up both hands.
Inos’ gesture underscored that everyone—even the islands’ chief executive—is not immune to stress and to Saures and her staff at CDC, the start of the fiscal year is as good as any to celebrate behavioral health and promote safety and mental wellbeing in the community.
“Behavioral health is a vital part of health in general. It’s not just physical health that is important. It’s also emotional and mental health, so we have to make sure to take care of our whole health,” said Saures during yesterday’s proclamation signing at the Governor Office conference room.
The proclamation quotes a 2011 NMI Behavioral Health Survey commissioned by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., which showed that adult use of alcohol in the CNMI is at 41 percent.
The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered by the CNMI Public School System reports that 41.4 percent of high school students had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more of the past 30 days, 30.6 percent used marijuana one or more times in the past 30 days, and 18.1 percent seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months.
The same proclamation reads that the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 2.6 million people received specialty treatment for a substance abuse disorder and more than 31.3 million adults aged 18 and older received services related to mental health.
Project Brabu CEO Clyde Norita said their office has $500,000 in available grants for groups that campaign against underage drinking. He said nine of the 30 applicants have so far been approved.