Psych Central's Anti-Stigma Link to CAMI-CNMI

Exciting news, Dr. Grohol's very popular site, Psych Central has posted a link to our CAMI-CNMI site! To navigate to it, click on the link above or go to http://psychcentral.com/, click on Resources > Mental Health > Anti-Stigma. Psych Central is one of the premier sources of mental health information online. It gets over 650,000 unique visitors per month. Translation: that's alot of people!

I enjoy Dr. Grohol's comprehensive coverage of information and so it's great to be included on his site. You can read more background info on Dr. Grohol here.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/31/2007 01:19:00 AM 0 comments  

Mental Illness and Hope

Psych Central has a nice article called, "Is There Hope for the Mentally Ill?" It's an article about mental illness and eliminating the stigmas that come with it. Two tips on overcoming the stigmas of mental illness include:

(1) Recognize that mental illness, while it can be more dangerous than a physical illness, is just that—an illness. Those who suffer from a mental illness are not mentally deficient in their mental capacity; they just have had a chemical imbalance or a severe head injury which hinders their ability to function normally in a certain part of a mental ability of function.

(2) People must be more willing to talk about how they feel to others, and those who are listening must not be judgmental or make the person out to be mentally deficient if they seem to be having problems with a mental illness.

Wishing our visitors good mental and physical health and please remember to "lend a real helping hand" in your neighborhood, in your town, and in your part of the world.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/28/2007 11:35:00 AM 0 comments  

Saipan Tribune - Letters to the Editor

The Saipan Tribune has posted a letter I sent to its editor, titled Looking for some "real helping hands." The letter gives some background information on how CAMI-CNMI started and what its basic goal is.

I started CAMI-CNMI with the help of Kaye Christian and my wife, Miwa, because of the need to eliminate erroneous beliefs and fears about mental illness in the world, especially here in the Northern Mariana Islands. As founder of CAMI-CNMI: Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI (a mental health awareness group), my desire and hope is that together, as we get volunteers in the community involved in the lives of our mental health consumers and join together in shared activities that we will wipe out these terrible stigmas of mental illness here on our islands.

One thing which I forgot to explain in the letter was the Clubhouse. The Clubhouse is a part of the Community Guidance Center (CGC). It's actually an extension of the Transition Living Center (TLC), their day program. Basically the Clubhouse is a place where mentally ill consumers (both in-patient & out-patient) can come and hangout and do activities with the idea of training them for transitional employment, where they work in the community at real jobs.

It is important to mention that the Clubhouse is just one part of CAMI-CNMI and it's where we're going to focus our volunteer efforts until the group becomes strong enough to branch out to other activities. CAMI-CNMI gathers community volunteers to do activities with Clubhouse members. However, our aim is to have our volunteers share in activities and events with ALL consumers of mental health and/or those with mental illness here on Saipan, even those who are not part of the Clubhouse.

You see the beauty of CAMI-CNMI is that we are not tied to any group because we are consumer-driven (as Kaye would say). In that sense, we answer to the needs of the consumers and members, not any agency or organization. Thus, we maintain a more politically-neutral stance and (try) not to get caught up in the bureaucratic mess.

Right now the goal of CAMI-CNMI is simple: to get community volunteers to do activities and projects with mental health consumers of the Clubhouse.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/26/2007 01:00:00 AM 0 comments  

CAMI-CNMI New Look & Events Calendar

Visitors to this blog will notice the new look to the CAMI-CNMI site. You'll also notice the huge calendar on the top of the page. Please check this calendar often as we will post current and upcoming Saipan events and activities here. Click on "Agenda" to see a listing of activities/events by date.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/25/2007 05:57:00 PM 0 comments  

CAMI-CNMI Meeting Recap

Dear friends:

For those of you not familiar with CAMI-CNMI: Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI, we are a new mental health awareness group homegrown right here in Saipan. We have one mission: To get volunteers in the community involved in the lives of our mental health consumers and join together in shared activities so that together we will wipe out the terrible stigmas of mental illness here on our islands.

We held our first CAMI-CNMI meeting tonight at the Clubhouse. One theme that was echoed over and over is that we're trying to Keep Things Simple. We're looking for volunteers to lend "a real helping hand." In the coming weeks and months, you will see the CAMI-CNMI name all over Saipan and more importantly, you will see community volunteers teaming up and sharing in activities with mental health consumers.

***Next Volunteer Opportunity will be Sat. Feb. 10th. We will join Beautify CNMI to help clean up our island.*** (More details to come).

Short Recap of our CAMI-CNMI Meeting:

1) GED classes will be offered by Betty Miller for Clubhouse clients. Date/Time to be determined.

2) Clubhouse activities (for now) will be mainly Friday nights and Saturday mornings.

3) Some activities of interests: cha-cha lesson, tahitian dance, karaoke/singing, beading, picnics, art/painting, and more... (Not to worry Jeanne Rayphand, I have you down for Sat. mornings for art/painting. Will talk to Kaye and then email you in the next few days to find the best date/time). Thanks for volunteering! :)

4) NEXT Volunteer Opportunity: Sat. Feb. 10th. We will join Beautify CNMI to help clean up our island.

5) We offer gas coupon to anyone who assists in transporting/driving consumers to CAMI-CNMI events.

6) In the weeks and months ahead, CAMI-CNMI will forge alliances with our local Saipan agencies, CGC, DPS, DYS, PSS, NMPASI, etc.

7) We will also reach out to church groups (Mormon, Seventh-Day, Catholic, Baptist, etc.) to seek volunteers.

8) CAMI-CNMI Website will be updated daily or a few times a week to reflect news or things of interests for the mental health community.

9) An online Calendar of Events will be developed shortly to list upcoming events/activities.

We are so excited to see so many CNMI agencies represented there tonight: PSS, CGC, NMPASI, & Beautify CNMI. Please help us spread the word! And keep checking our blog for the latest news/updates at http://cami-cnmi.blogspot.com/.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/25/2007 12:00:00 PM 0 comments  

CAMI-CNMI Logo & Web Links

You'll notice that CAMI-CNMI has a new logo! I'm no Picasso, but this very basic clip art (borrowed from the dictionary) of an origami says so much about CAMI-CNMI and its aim, i.e. to use the power of volunteers to join in shared activities and lend a "real helping hand." This basic origami logo represents the simplistic theme of keeping things simple inherent in CAMI-CNMI.

The Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI believes the following:

1) Mental illness is not contagious. You can't catch it.
2) Clients are human beings like you and me.
3) All anyone really needs is to "connect" with others in this world.

If you like doing arts & crafts, going bowling, taking a walk on the beach path, learning origami or Bon dance, going to watch a movie, learning about dental care...and so much more, then we need you to come out and share your talents and skills with us here on Saipan!

On another related note, CAMI-CNMI would like to thank Walt Goodridge and WeLoveSaipan.Com for posting information about CAMI-CNMI on its website. Thanks Walt.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/23/2007 12:58:00 AM 2 comments  

Biographies of CAMI-CNMI's Early Supporters

In the next few days, I will feature a short biography of the first 9 supporters of CAMI-CNMI (not counting me and the two co-founders), which makes it 12 bios. These action-oriented professionals have demonstrated a "let's do something mentality." Here's a short timeline.

An email was sent to 18 people about CAMI-CNMI on Jan. 18, 2007. The response (within 3 days) from supporters in alphabetical order and with response time are as follows. 50% of the people who reveived the email responded (via email, in person, or by writing an article) with their support in just 3 days!

1. Bev Cabanatan (Registered Dental Hygienist) -- 1.20.07 -- Hey, I've been flossing!
2. Marconi Calindas (Saipan Tribune reporter) -- 1.21.07 -- Great article in the Sunday paper!
3. Becky Flores (School Counselor at WSR) -- 1.20.07 -- A mentor and a great colleague!
4. Walt Goodridge (www.passionprofit.com) -- 1.20.07 -- Thanks for the blog tips!
5. Patty Mendoza (School Counselor at Hopwood Junior High) -- 1.19.07 -- The CMLS leader and a friend!
6. Betty Miller (San Vicente Elementary Teacher) -- 1.19.2007 -- You truly live up to your Teacher of the Year award!
7. LJ Tenorio-Fejeran (Child/Adolescent Therapist) -- 1.16.07 -- You supported us even before we had a name!
8. Hazel Tudela (School Counselor at MHS) -- 1.18.07 -- A kind soul & a great heart!
9. Angelo Villagomez (Beautify CNMI) -- 1.20.07 -- Your "let's do" attitude is an inspiration for CAMI-CNMI!

Kaye Christian, CAMI-CNMI Co-Founder -- A giving spirit who helps when others turn away.
Miwa Iguchi-Nguyen, CAMI-CNMI Co-Founder -- Originator of CAMI-CNMI's motto "A Real Helping Hand" and my supporter!
Steve Nguyen (Behavior Specialist), CAMI-CNMI Co-Founder -- "Together we will rid our islands of the stigmas of mental illness."

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/21/2007 11:08:00 AM 1 comments  

CAMI-CNMI in the Saipan Tribune!

Thank you Marconi Calindas (Saipan Tribune reporter) for running the CAMI story in today's paper, under the title "Beautify CNMI! of mental health formed." I am amazed at the level of response and support from my colleagues and friends, both in person and especially online (thanks Angelo, Walt, and Bev). It's phenomenal this power of blogging!

I just emailed the Saipan Tribune editors with a letter to further add some additional information that I believe might be helpful to its readers, namely meeting date & time as well as background information on how CAMI-CNMI came about.

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/21/2007 10:15:00 AM 0 comments  

CAMI: Needing Volunteers & Gathering Support

I am proud to be a part of a dynamic and enthusiastic effort to bring to the Saipan community a mental health awareness group, CAMI-CNMI (Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI). There is such erroneous beliefs and fears about mental illness in the world, especially here in the Northern Mariana Islands. As founder of CAMI-CNMI: Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI, my desire and hope is that together as we get volunteers in the community involved in the lives of our mental health consumers and join together in shared activities that we will wipe out these terrible stigmas of mental illness here on our islands. I want to thank Kaye Christian for sharing in this dream of mine to remove these fears and beliefs that haunt the mental health clients. Kaye and I both believe that by getting people to share in activities (like doing arts & crafts, going bowling, taking a walk on the beach path, learning origami or Bon dance, go watch a movie...and so much more) that people will see for themselves that mental illness is not contagious, that clients are human beings like you and me, and that all anyone really needs is to "connect" with others in this world. The only limitation is our imagination and our willingness to come and hangout with our brothers and sisters in the mental health community. I am passionate to work with Kaye and my wife Miwa, both co-founders of CAMI-CNMI, to help make this a reality.

Those of you living in the CNMI can help, in fact we really need your help. Go to CAMI-CNMI: Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI and leave your comments, feedback, and/or suggestions. If you are a blogger, please link to the CAMI-CNMI blog and help us spread the word about needing volunteers.

But above all else, we need "a Real Helping Hand." Please let me know how you would like to be a part of CAMI-CNMI. Whether you jump ropes, teach Japanese, do arts & crafts, play sports, anything that you love to do or are good at - please share your skills and talents with us. I look forward to meeting and visiting you all in the upcoming days, weeks, and months ahead as we collaborate on ways to help rid our islands of the stigmas of mental illness.

[Update]: I have received very positive feedback and support for our CAMI-CNMI project from people in the community. Several educators and a mental health clinician are lending their support to our cause. One teacher today told me she's planning to come to our meeting. Thank you!

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/19/2007 06:50:00 PM 0 comments  

CAMI-CNMI: Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI

This is a letter I just emailed to 18 people here in Saipan about starting up a mental health awareness group, called CAMI-CNMI:

My name is Steve Nguyen. I work as a Behavior Specialist for the public school system here in Saipan.

In the process of trying to find some help for a young man and while discussing and collaborating with a fellow member of the Mental Health Planning Council named Kaye Christian, an idea came to my mind to start a mental health awareness group here in the CNMI!

We've all heard about how a few passionate people started Beautify CNMI, a group of concerned citizens, groups, and government agencies united to enhance the CNMI's natural beauty and foster community pride. They picked up trash and are doing a great job cleaning up the beaches.

Beautify CNMI is doing its part to make our environment healthier, cleaner, and more beautiful. In this same spirit, we're going to start a mental health awareness group to clean up and wipe out the myths and stigmas that plague mental illness. We want to be the Beautify CNMI of mental health!

Drawing inspirations from Angelo Villagomez' Beautify CNMI (environment) and Tina Sablan's "Call for Action" (politics), we are going to follow in the same footsteps set by Beautify CNMI and do the same thing for mental health that Beautify CNMI is doing for the environment! We will call this new group CAMI-CNMI (Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in CNMI). By uniting the powers of VOLUNTEERS from the community and from various agencies like PSS, Clubhouse, NMC, DYS, CGC, DPS, NMPASI, etc. we can and will ignite a mental health awareness revolution here in the CNMI!

Currently, there is nothing like CAMI-CNMI for mental illness. But that's about to change in a very big way! We have a lot of meetings and people and agencies plan things but nothing ever gets done. Why? Because there are way too many planners and dreamers and wishful thinkers, but not enough doers. Kaye Christian and I believe in actions. We believe in the power of real people, giving "a real hand" to helping the community. CAMI-CNMI is not about politics or about grants or federal funding, although those things all play a role. Instead, CAMI-CNMI is about getting people in the CNMI community (whether you're 7 years old or 70 years old) to lend a "real helping hand."

We are looking for people who want to DO things instead of just talking about it. No more long meetings and time-consuming research groups. Let's just DO SOMETHING! Let's get some "Real Helping Hands!"

You will notice that I didn't email everyone in Saipan. On the contrary, each one of you has been hand-picked by me as someone with a great heart, a desire to help, and a sense of urgency. Your character, your job (as a writer, a psychologist, an educator/administrator, a business woman, a counselor, etc), and your willingness to do the work when others run away are what separates you from the pack of mediocrity and complacency.

CAMI-CNMI will serve as the umbrella under which the Clubhouse and other activities will get the community and schools involved in the lives of the mental health consumers.

I'm calling on each and everyone of you on this email list (1) To join CAMI-CNMI to wipe out the myths and stigmas that plague mental illness here in the CNMI, (2) To help CAMI-CNMI recruit and organize VOLUNTEERS to serve our community, starting at the Clubhouse, and (3) To Volunteer and lend "A Real Helping Hand" (1-2 hours per month) to set up activities for and join Clubhouse members. For example: doing arts & crafts, joining the members in bowling, taking walks with members on the beach path, play volleyball, basketball or baseball, jumping ropes, and so much more...

Won't you join us in CAMI-CNMI? Together, you and I will make a difference in the CNMI community by making it a better place to live, to work, and to play for ALL members of our society. We can and we will offer "A Real Helping Hand."

Thank you.

P.S. I would like to thank Kaye Christian for believing and sharing in this project and to my lovely wife for helping me come up with the CAMI-CNMI name and ideas!

***We will have our very first CAMI-CNMI meeting, Wed. Jan. 24th at 6:30pm at the Clubhouse, BenCam Building directly behind the Mobil middle road. Come join us!***

Steve Nguyen, MA: CAMI-CNMI (co-founder & Behavior Specialist)
Kaye Christian: CAMI-CNMI (co-founder & Clubhouse Volunteer)
Miwa Iguchi-Nguyen: CAMI-CNMI (co-founder & originator of motto)

CAMI-CNMI, http://cami-cnmi.blogspot.com/
Coalition on the Anti-Stigmas of Mental Illness in the CNMI

"A Real Helping Hand"

Posted bySteve Nguyen at 1/18/2007 06:20:00 PM 2 comments