Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has expressed support for a Senate bill that would create a scholarship program for students pursuing college in the field of behavioral health.
In a letter to Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider and House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez dated Oct. 4, 2021, Torres said that Senate Bill 22-05 will not only provide assistance to CNMI residents who are looking to further their education in the field of behavioral health, but also ensure that the CNMI will attain much-needed behavioral professionals to help the CNMI community.
“Through this scholarship, it is my hope that we become a healthier CNMI through the acquired knowledge and skills that CNMI residents availing of this program will use to help in the prevention and reduction of behavioral health related to substance abuse, suicide, and criminal activities,” he said.
He cited the worsening rate of behavioral health issues throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, causing a mental illness and substance addiction crisis that must be addressed by psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, social workers, and substance abuse professionals who are qualified to do so.
“The strategic conditions of this scholarship award, as reviewed and monitored by the CNMI Scholarship Office, will also provide a means of accountability and assurance that the recipient of the scholarship award will return to the CNMI after graduation to join the CNMI workforce. Through these conditions, CNMI residents will be encouraged to apply and avail of this scholarship opportunity to utilize their acquired knowledge in their respective field of behavioral health study for the betterment of the Commonwealth,” he added.
The scholarship program will be called the Behavioral Health Professional Scholarship. (Saipan Tribune)