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Back Local News Calvo signs bill changing name of mental health agency

Calvo signs bill changing name of mental health agency

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GOV. Eddie Calvo signed Bill 73-32 into law yesterday, changing the name of what has been the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center. The intent of the new law is to change the public’s perception of the department and its clients.

Calvo said he fully supports the law. “There has been a stigma, and with that stigma it has been difficult for some of our residents to make that outreach for the services that we provide here on Guam,” Calvo said. The law will make it easier to “give them that encouragement to make use of the services we have.”

The bill was introduced by Sen. Dennis G. Rodriguez and was passed unanimously by the 32nd Guam Legislature on April 30. “This initiative is from the stakeholders and from the hardworking people that we have from the agency,” Rodriguez said, addressing those from the department who were present at the bill signing. “It was you guys who came forward and said, ‘This is the name we chose.’ ... It’s a positive move for our community and the individuals that receive services at the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.”

The law became effective upon enactment.

Rey Vega, director of the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center, also commented on the impact the bill will have. “This would reduce the stigma associated with the name that imparts shameful feelings, despair and can lead to discrimination,” he said. “Also with the name change, we hope it will change the atmosphere at the facility.”

The introduction of the legislation noted that on Feb. 4, authority over the department was restored to the government of Guam under an amended permanent injunction issued by the U.S. District Court of Guam. The department had been under the authority of a federal management team since September 2010.

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