San Vicente Elementary School teachers and staff had a professional development training on mental health matters last March 29 with the Public School System’s Mental Health Program—Project Haligi Aware.
The training, which was intended to communicate the importance of mental health and awareness, taught participants about self-care strategies, coping skills, and stress management.
“Mental health is…about learning ways to take better care of yourself in a positive manner because if we don’t take better care of ourselves, we won’t be able to provide the support that our students need,” said SVES principal Paulette Sablan.
Project Haligi Aware prepares teachers and administrative staff to recognize and respond to behavioral and mental health issues among students. A goal of the program is to improve crisis response, intervention, and access to school-based and community mental health services.
“As teachers, it might be challenging to find the time to take care of ourselves when we are always looking after our children at school and home,” said Haligi Aware program director Dr. Yvonne R. Pangelinan. “Mental health, like physical health, is about building yourself up so that you are stronger and have coping skills. You can’t achieve overall health and well-being without addressing mental health.”
Haligi Aware is designed to support all students, staff, and families throughout the CNMI who may be experiencing feelings of sadness or hopelessness to work toward resilience and mental wellness.
Haligi Aware community program Manager, Walter Mendez, said, “…We want to instill confidence in our teachers that there is support like Haligi Aware that they can rely on and be the cushioning they need when they experience moments of desolation. When we reach out to the schools and conduct these professional developments, we aim to leave the teachers and staff with efficient self-care strategies and coping skills that they may practice in their daily lives. Our teachers need to be reminded that they need to take care of their mental wellness so they can work at optimal performance for our students.”
Haligi Aware will implement behavioral health methods that help give access to reliable services within the school and community. In the months to follow, Haligi Aware will continue to provide a multi-tiered system of support for mental wellness for PSS students, educators, staff, leaders, and families. (PR)