Bill proposes pilot program for youth mental health

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Senator Regine Biscoe Lee. (PNC photo)

Guam – In response to the rising ride of youth suicide and substance abuse incidents, one senator is offering a solution.

Senator Régine Biscoe Lee has introduced Bill 155-35, which aims to create a pilot program to equip public school personnel with the tools to recognize and address symptoms of youth mental health issues.

The measure tasks the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center with establishing and administering a pilot program to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid training for up to 500 Guam Department of Education personnel directly responsible for student instruction or supervision.

The training is a public education program designed to help individuals understand mental illness, support timely intervention, and, ultimately, save lives.

It is an eight-hour course that teaches people how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

According to Lee, Guam’s youth suicide and meth addiction rates are staggering, requiring this extraordinary intervention on the part of the government.

With the pilot program, Lee said GovGuam can put as many as 500 trained personnel in front of the island’s public school children in short order.

While the initial pilot program is focused on public school students, the senator said the program can be expanded with the availability of future funds and the willingness of private schools.