Vice Speaker Nelson Requests GDOE Plans to Support Students’ Mental Health


(Hagåtña, Guam) – As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have included children and teens in a list of those who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis, Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson has requested information on how the Guam Department of Education intends to respond and care for the mental health of the island’s students.


The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people, according to the CDC, and especially for older people, people with chronic diseases or mental health conditions, front line responders, and children and teens. The CDC states that stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

· Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones

· Changes in sleep or eating patterns

· Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

· Worsening of chronic health problems

· Worsening of mental health conditions

· Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs


In a letter sent Wednesday to GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez and Guam Education Board Chairperson Maria Gutierrez, Vice Speaker Nelson explained her concern for the mental health of Guam’s students in light of the island’s COVID-19 outbreak. The Vice Speaker also shared concerns about addressing the psychological needs of Guam’s children and requested the following information:

· Process for identifying at-risk students

· Timeline for partnership between Guam Behavior Health and Wellness Center, WestCare Pacific Islands, and the Guam Department of Education

· Plan for training and informing counselors to respond to and assist at-risk students

· Process for at-risk students to contact counselors and whether there will be informational outreach, so that students know assistance is available


“While we have been faced with many new realities in a short amount of time, we must understand that our children and students have also adapted to a new reality, and some may be suffering in silence,” said Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson. “There have been significant changes to our daily lives and the way we live, some of us may not be coping as well as others. It is important that we look after our mental, as well as our physical, health, and not only for ourselves, but our children and our most vulnerable.”

For more information, please contact Tihu Lujan at The Office of Vice Speaker

Telena Cruz Nelson at (671) 989-7696 or senatortcnelson@guamlegislature.org.

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