THE Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. celebrated May as Mental Health Awareness Month by hosting Marianas Relay last week in collaboration with Northern Marianas Athletics and various community partners at the Oleai Track and Field.

The event, according to CHCC spokesman Guillermo C. Lifoifoi, promoted mental health and wellness through physical health and nutrition by encouraging community members to take proactive steps in improving their overall health and well-being.

Thirty-seven teams and over a hundred participants gathered on the track to “pass the baton” in support of mental wellness in the CNMI.

The Marianas Relay was officially launched with two teams participating in the Micronesian All Around.

The 4 x 100 relay, Mixed Medley, and Community Shuttle followed, featuring a combination of teams whose members are 4 to 60 years old.

Participants also availed themselves of free health screenings for blood pressure and glucose provided by the Northern Marianas College Nursing Club as well as health program information from the Community Guidance Center and the Non-Communicable Disease Bureau.

Team incentives, raffle prizes and refreshments were made available through the generous donations of the Tan Siu Lin Foundation, Bridge Capital LLC, Micronesian Brokers Inc., Western Sales Trading Company, D&Q International Distributors, Joeten Enterprises, Triple J Five Star Wholesale Foods Inc., Megabyte, 4Ever CNMI, Ete Cafe, and Leonisa and Ken Kato.

"The camaraderie and support seen throughout the event highlighted this year’s mental health  awareness campaign, as both participants and spectators cheered each other on," Lifoifoi said.

  He said there were various other outreach and awareness activities completed during the month of May “to shine a spotlight on the importance of caring for everyone’s  mental health and to reinforce the message that positive mental health is essential for healthy development,.”

These activities included a pre-recorded proclamation signing video with Gov. Ralph Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios; a 5K virtual run; multiple mental health campaign videos featuring different groups from the CNMI community, sharing how they take care of their mental health; a Mental Health First Aid Training for adults; a Drop Everything and Reset virtual activity targeting school-age students and their families; physical health and wellness content shared via social media; a Vibe in Color obstacle course on Rota; a two-day 3x3 basketball tournament on Tinian; Zumba sessions on Saipan and Tinian; a coffee and paint activity for parents; and daily postings for Spirit Week.

Lifoifoi said over 8,600 individuals participated in the various mental health awareness outreach activities on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

Additionally, “the robust social media campaign drew over 10,100 viewers. The activities were  made possible with the support and assistance from valued community partners such as Northern Marianas Athletics, Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc., CHCC-NCDB, the Public School System’s mental health team, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs-Division of Youth Services, the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Northern Marianas College,” Lifoifoi said.

“The strong community support for mental health awareness activities highlights the importance of  continuing and sustaining mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention efforts,” he added.

For more  information on available behavioral health services and support, contact the Community Guidance Center at 323-6560 or 6561.

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A bachelor of arts in journalism graduate, he started his career as a police beat reporter. Loves to cook. Eats death threats for breakfast.

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