GLENDALE–The Armenian Relief Society Western Region formally recently opened a new mental health clinic in the city of Spitak.
Since the devastating earthquake on December 7–1988–The Armenian Relief Society Western Region US established the Psychiatric Outreach Program to train mental health professionals in the earthquake zone.
In 1990 Dr. Louis M. Najarian–Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine lived in Gumri from 1990 to 1991 sponsored by a United States Agency for International Development grant to train local psychiatrists and psychologists. The ARS built a six-room mental health clinic in Gumri and maintained a center in Spitak. Both centers provided continuous mental health services for the children and their families since then.
The center in Spitak initially worked in tents–later trailers and most recently unpleasant working facilities with limited heat–electricity and water. In 1999 the former Mayor of Spitak–Suren Avedissian promised the Armenian Relief Society a new center in one of the newly constructed buildings.
Unfortunately the mayor was killed in an automobile accident but the current mayor–Hamlet Sardaryan fulfilled the previous mayor’s promised and the ARS provided the funds for the renovation and establishment of the new mental health clinic.
The clinic is a state of the art facility designed by New York architects and provides ample waiting area with three consultation rooms–for a psychiatrist–a psychologist–a speech and language pathologist and a secretary.
On November 3–2001 the formal opening took place during a brief ceremony in which Archbishop Sebouh–from Vnadzor–officiated at the opening with Father Avedik–the local Parish Priest from Spitak. Speakers at the program included Suren Avedissian’s father–a Deputy to the Parliament in the Republic of Armenia–Hamlet Sardaryan–Mayor of the city–Nellie Bagdassarian–President of the ARS in Armenia–the principals from two schools at which the ARS staff have consulted since the earliest days after the earthquake and the ARS psychological treatment staff. Following the Archbishop’s blessings all enjoyed a tour of the facility and all were impressed with the quality of the construction.