The U.S. territory of Guam requests funding for Project Ågang (aw-gang), which means “call” in Chamorro – Guam’s indigenous language. The project aims to establish reliable 24-hour Emergency Services for individuals experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. The project proposes to serve children ages 5 and older with SEDs and individuals ages 18 and older with SMI, including those with Substance Use Disorders or Co-Occurring Disorders.
In 2018, one individual on Guam died by suicide every 8 days. From 2014-2018, over 1,300 calls were made from Guam to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) and 0% were able to receive help because 0 crisis centers on island are members. Additionally, in 2019, GBHWC’s inpatient units saw 465 admissions; and of the total, 42 were children and 423 were adults, with an average length of stay at 7.3 days.
A 2019 Client Data Report showed GBHWC served over 3,300 clients, with 16% of them being children ages 5-18 and 84% being adults ages 18 and older. In addition, almost half of all clients served consisted of individuals experiencing the 3 most frequently reported diagnoses which are Mood Disorders (Major Depression and Bipolar), ADHD, and Schizophrenia. Additionally, 24% of GBHWC’s clientele were diagnosed with an SUD with almost 15% of them living with a Co-Occurring Disorder. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2019), mood disorders are the most common cause of hospitalization for all people in the U.S. under age 45. Project Ågang seeks to decrease the number of suicides and hospitalization on Guam through 24-hour Emergency Crisis Services by establishing a Lifeline Crisis Center (LCC) and Mobile Response Stabilization Service (MRSS). There is an alarming need for a LCC on Guam that links with the NSPL. Lifeline centers are reported to significantly reduce emotional distress and suicidality in callers. Additionally, people in crisis can easily use lifelines to access help when other mental health, substance abuse, and social services are inaccessible during late-night hours and can also be utilized to provide monitoring or tracking of patients after hospitalization for a suicide attempt (NASMHPD, 2018).
In addition to serving over 3,000 individuals from our focus population, Project Ågang seeks to serve no less than another 200 individuals (unduplicated) per year through its Emergency Crisis Services. The project’s three primary goals are: 1) Increase access to treatment and support services for the target population through a 24-hour Emergency Crisis Intervention Service (LCC and MRSS); 2) Increase identification of individuals ages 5 and older with SEDs, SMI, SUD, and/or COD, in need of services; and 3) Develop a Continuous Quality Improvement & Sustainability Plan.