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January is Self-Help Group Awareness Month

January is a time when many of us focus on ourselves, whether it be to lose weight or stop smoking cigarettes. There are times when this task may be more than we can handle ourselves. We may seek out groups where people seeking similar changes gather to support each other.

For those seeking recovery for addictions, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous may have the assistance that we need to meet our goals at ending our drug use.

For those of us needing support in recovery for mental health needs, the options are far fewer. There is hope, though. I was recently given an opportunity to meet with the group “Afa’nelos” on Rota, whose purpose is “to encourage healthy lifestyles through cultural, nutritional, physical, and holistic activities that benefit the residents of Rota.” Afa’nelos looks at using alternatives to typical mental health treatment such as medications, to approach mental health recovery. We may use art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and even laughter therapy to cope with our symptoms. Afa’nelos looks at activities that we have locally to accomplish these same goals, such as swimming, weaving, farming, and fishing.

When looking for a group to support your individual needs, you may find it easier if it is a group that shares similar interests you may have.

For more information about self-help groups to assist you with your behavioral health needs, please contact NMPASI at 235-7273/4 or visit us online at

Greg Borja
Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc.