Health News

CNMI Blue Ribbon Action Team brings back recovery support to community

By Lori Lyn Lirio

Peerlink leader project coordinator Robyn Priest discusses training and technical assistance with Community Guidance Center staff in their office at TSL Building in Garapan. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

THE Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island Blue Ribbon Action Team will renew its assistance to troubled people.

This was learned after the CNMI, through the support of the Community Guidance Center, announced that it is bringing back recovery support to the community with clear action plans to assist people who have alcohol or drug abuse and mental health problem.

The Blue Ribbon campaign was first established in May 2017.

Team members are representatives from different entities – faith community, the Division of Public Health, CGC, Superior Court’s Drug Court program, HOPE Recovery Center, Division of Youth Services and other community providers.

Herb Sablan, CGC Substance Abuse Treatment supervisor and Blue Ribbon team lead coordinator, said the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA, under the BRSS TACS project or Bringing Recovery Support to Scale Technical Assistance Strategy project, has provided them training and technical assistance.

The four-day training and technical assistance, which started on Monday and ended on Thursday, was facilitated by Faces and Voices of Recovery executive director Patty McCarthy Metcalf and Peerlink leader project coordinator Robyn Priest.

The BRSS TACS project provides training and technical assistance to and technical assistance to states, territories and tribal communities to improved the work that they are doing in their jurisdiction around substance used and mental health care.

Voices of Recovery and Peerlink are both entities based in the mainland that promote recovery.

“We will come out with a memorandum of understanding between our representing organizations wherein we will have a shared vision to move forward,” he said.

Through technical assistance extended to the Blue Ribbon team, Sablan said they can now easily identify the target priorities.

“How do we continue to maintain individuals or families in the different services that we provide and how do we keep them at the forefront as we do this together?”

He said the Blue Ribbon will continue to work as a team.

“In the stateside, different organizations are doing their own thing. It is kind of scattered and nobody is communicating. But we are trying to work it in the CNMI that all the different members,” he added.

“We need technical assistance and training so that we are well-informed of the different areas of what we need to plan for, implement services or even having an understanding of how do we bring services here on our island so we can address our people’s needs on drug and alcohol issues, which is now being known as substance use disorder and mental health condition,” he said.

“Last is how do we continue to move forward and plan forward so we can help people in recovery from whatever it is – whether it is mental health, drug and alcohol-continue to pursue long-term recovery and maintain their wellness and health. It is a lot of work.”

In an interview, Metcalf said she has faith in the Blue Ribbon team because they involved various communities to work towards making recovery from alcohol and drug addiction and mental health condition.

“They have a way to find support in their communities for their challenges for alcohol or drugs or mental health challenges.”

She noted that the CNMI has a lot of strength.

“They have the community that cares and it is in their vision and mission of their function as organization to help people. That is a big strength and a good starting point.”

Metcalf said the Blue Ribbon team has come up with three goals to make CNMI more recovery-oriented: to strengthen that partnership amongst the community action team; Identify and what their training and technical assistance needs are to do even better; and to build their recovery community organization up here so people in the recovery and their family members can be part of the solution by providing peer support.


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Lori Lyn Lirio
Lori Lyn C. Lirio is a veteran newshen having worked for the People's Journal Tonight for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications degree from the Lyceum of the Philippines University. She currently writes for the Marianas Variety, Saipan's number one community paper. .

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