Ponce – Developing a diversity of strategies and initiatives to ensure the essential service of mental health in one of the most affected sectors such as children, the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce through the Head Start Program inaugurated today the first Comprehensive Mental Health Unit in Puerto Rico that It will incorporate preventive and mental health promotion activities, with the expectation of strengthening and serving as support to all families and children participating in the program.
“Despite the difficulties and challenges we have faced as a people since Hurricane Maria, the earthquakes and recently the COVID-19 pandemic, we have expanded social services. We recognized the need for a mental health unit that provides help, not only to our children participating in the program but also to their families, ”said the mayor of Ponce, María E. Meléndez Altieri.
He added, “The office that we inaugurate today will transform the socio-emotional services of families to another level, as never seen before on the island, creating resources for the community, ensuring the rights of our children, but above all, promoting a change in the stigma of emotional health ”.
This unit, unique in Puerto Rico, will have intervention, evaluation and referral services, not only to the children participating in the special education program, but also to all participants, it will also have the first and only informed mental trauma office to attend all those situations of social emergency in families. In addition, it will allow the training and certification of all employees, families and children in experiences that allow a more effective handling of emergency situations.
Through federal allocation, operational, recovery and quality improvement, $ 313,575 were identified for the regular operation of the offices, $ 67,317 for the reported mental trauma office, and $ 520,000 for training and certifications for two years of the project.
“We recognize this inauguration as a meeting of friends of Head Start with representatives of Ponce Health Science University, schools, medical offices, government offices, among others, which are a sample of the more than 70 alliances that allow and facilitate the development of projects of social justice, ”said Dr. Javier Negrón, director of the Ponce Head Start and Early Head Start Program.
The ribbon cutting was in charge of Dr. Alfred Soler, coordinator of the program and the activity was attended by the mayor of Ponce, María E. Meléndez; the president of the Governing Board, Lucía Velázquez; the president of the Regulatory Policy Council, Humberto Martínez and the director of Citizen Services, Omayra Colón.
The rector of the Ponce Health Science University (PHSU), Dr. José Torres; PHSU Vice President of Marketing, Emsley Vázquez, Teacher of the Year, Lissete Vega, and Deacon Emeritus López Cosme.