DYS completes mental health first aid

With the growing need to address mental healthcare in the Commonwealth, the Division of Youth Services under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, with the coordination of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Community Guidance Center, recently certified 17 of its the personnel for mental health first aid.

DYS administrator Vivian Sablan said that, as employees of a youth service agency, it is vital to build on knowledge and skills as a tool to effectively respond in crisis interventions, especially when addressing mental health needs of youth and families. 

“We are very grateful for this opportunity that was extended to DCCA-DYS and other partner agencies. The training highlights the ongoing need to address mental health needs as soon as we encounter the issue with our youth. As the division is tasked with promoting the wellbeing of children, youth, families, and the community as a whole, we are better prepared as first responders to the stresses that families and children face and can better improve mental health outcomes,” Sablan said.

Expressing his sentiments on the growing awareness of mental healthcare, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres stated that promoting positive youth development requires active participation across all stakeholders.

“As our community continues to heal and grow, the need for comprehensive and coordinated mental health care is important. Even with the recovery center in place, we are taking extra steps to look at building more sustainable systems of care and to encourage others to take part in supporting not just the physical needs of our children and community, but their overall mental health. I thank DYS for taking this step forward and commend CGC for providing the necessary training,” Torres said.

Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert H. Hunter noted that, through community partnerships such as the Community Guidance Center Systems of Care, DYS strengthens their capacity to address child abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and other social issues.

“DYS continues to be instrumental in addressing several social issues, but we cannot do it alone and that’s why leveraging our partnerships help provide rehabilitative care to our most vulnerable. A big part of program is family education and youth enhancement as a step toward prevention and empowerment. It is from this standpoint that we can better facilitate our services from child protection, shelter services, foster care, juvenile probation, parent education, and youth services and outreach. From active parenting to mental health first aid, this training is one of several ways we hope to reach more of our community members,” Hunter said.

Mental health first aid aims to provide training to initial help to young people experiencing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis and substance abuse disorders.  The training highlighted discussions on the prevalence of mental health issues, the first aider role, spectrum of interventions, risk factors for developing a mental health disorder and taking care of the first aider.

For more information on DYS, call 664-2550/2551 or you may contact the Parent HelpLine at 287-2847. (PR)

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