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PSS to conduct online mental health training for teachers, staff

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THE Public School System is holding a series of online training opportunities for teachers and staff to promote mental health among students and their families.

The training is a program under the TASA or Trauma Advised Student Advocacy grant, which PSS received in April through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency.

PSS senior director Dr. Yvonne Pangelinan said the grant was in response to the ongoing recovery from  Super Typhoons Soudelor in 2015 and Yutu in 2018.

She said the community has been recovering, but there are still a lot of individuals, especially children and teachers, who are still coping with trauma that may have a long-lasting effect.

“There’s still a lot of emotional and social issues that we know we need to attend to,” Pangelinan said. “We saw that in our student data. We saw a rise in student mental health issues.”

With the coronavirus situation, Pangelinan said more pressing mental health issues have come up.

“We have five days of [training]…in September that will focus on social-emotional learning and what it means to be trauma-informed. This terminology is still fairly new to the community but we don’t want it to be a scary thing. It is not a scary thing,” Pangelinan said.

“To be trauma-informed means being able to identify signs of trauma in your students and school staff, and having the skills to respond to that in order to build relationships and to continue to help students and staff with coping skills.”

Pangelinan said, “Trauma cannot be erased — it is a human experience and we don’t get to control it.  What we can learn to control is our response to trauma and ways in which we can positively cope.”

Training sessions are set for Sept. 1, 4,  9, 10 and 11, from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

“Mental health, like physical health, is about building yourself up so that you are stronger and you have coping skills,” Pangelinan said.  “You can’t achieve overall health and well-being without addressing mental health.”

She said the training is just the beginning.  “We have a whole year ahead for several different types of training to support, for example, our LGBTQ youth and students who have anxiety and depression. We will also address suicide awareness.  We don’t intend to do this alone. We have amazing partners in healthcare, mental health and education.  The more we build connectedness, the stronger we are collectively and that translates to community health, which we all desire for our CNMI.”

 

 

 

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