Unique Public Partnership To Bring Much-Needed Behavioral Health Services To East Mountain Area

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Unique Public Partnership To Bring Much-Needed Behavioral Health Services To East Mountain Area

SANTA FE COUNTY, NM – Access to behavioral health services, which includes mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders, can be especially challenging for those living in rural parts of New Mexico. People in communities like Moriarty, Edgewood, Stanley, Estancia, Torrance, and Tijeras rely heavily on emergency services supported by Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties. In 2018, approximately 600 psychiatric emergency patients were admitted to the UNM Psychiatric Center from these outlying rural communities. The majority (60%) of the admittance were Edgewood residents.

Bernalillo and Santa Fe County are teaming up to fund behavioral health services in the Edgewood and East Mountain area.   The program, referred to as the “Living Room Model,” will create a safe space for individuals living with a behavioral health condition to access care. People can utilize the safe and comforting space to communicate with a peer, see a behaviorist or simply deescalate. The center will be peer-operated, a national trend and recognized best-practice method for delivering behavioral health services. This new and exciting program comes at a time when both Counties have prioritized the provision of behavioral health services to individuals and families.

Santa Fe County Commissioner, Rudy Garcia, who represents the East Mountain District, indicated, “Santa Fe County has a strong commitment to addressing the issues of mental health and the rising impact of opiate addiction. This is only one such project that we are funding in order to reduce the number of drug overdoses and suicides in our community.” 

As a mental health therapist herself, East Mountain/ District 5, Bernalillo County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty sees the importance of implementing this program, “When someone is in crisis, an Emergency Room isn’t always the optimal location for treatment, the wait times, pace, and cost can be intimidating or worse, a trigger. The Living Room will be a communal, calming space with personalized care in a welcoming environment. I’m looking forward to seeing the life-changing work of this program and I am so pleased to collaborate with Santa Fe County leadership to offer this program to the people of my district and our neighboring communities.”

The program is expected to create widespread benefits, from reductions in ER visits and incarcerations to housing retention and stability. For the first three years both Santa Fe and Bernalillo County will provide funding for capital improvements and operational costs. First Choice Community Services will run and operate the facility. Exact funding amounts will be announced at the grand opening this Fall.

For more information, contact Community Services Director Rachel O’Connor at 505-992-9842 or via email roconnor@santafecountynm.gov