DOH And HSD Highlight Efforts To Improve Behavioral Health & Reduce Stigma Around Mental Illnesses

DOH News:

SANTA FE ― In continuing to recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month, the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) and the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) are highlighting efforts to improve mental health across the state by spreading awareness and integrating health services.

The DOH Office of School and Adolescent Health provides training and funding for 53 school-based health clinics that provide both primary and behavioral health services for students. The DOH Epidemiology and Response Division looks for indicators of mental health among students and adults in every county of New Mexico. 

HSD recently modernized the New Mexico Medicaid system by integrating physical and behavioral health services in the Centennial Care program, which will help treat an individual in a more holistic manner.

HSD has seen an 84% increase in the number of individuals receiving behavioral health services throughout the state in just the last year alone. This is an increase from the previous year, where the state saw a 30.4% increase in those being served. Additionally, New Mexico ranks above the national average in categories such as access to services, participation in treatment, and outcomes from treatment in a recent survey of behavioral health consumers in New Mexico.

“We’re continuing to work each day to help improve the behavioral health and basic quality of life for the most vulnerable New Mexicans,” said HSD Secretary Brent Earnest. “We are working toward this goal with an integrated Medicaid system, which delivers the right treatment, at the right time, in the right setting. And the increase in patients served shows that we are making important progress.”

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, DOH has released the first set of New Mexico Regional Mental Health Reports. Included in the reports are 17 county-level mental health indicators, including the recent NM Youth Risk & Resiliency Survey finding that 20.2% of NM high school students had purposely hurt themselves (such as cutting or burning) in the past year, an action, which is associated with suicide and mental illness such as anxiety and depression. 

“One in five New Mexicans experiences a mental illness each year. People with mental illness are more likely to attempt suicide, and are also more likely to experience physical illness, poverty, and being victims of violence,” said DOH Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “Improving mental health will also improve physical health.”

People with mental illness are more likely to attempt suicide, and are also more likely to experience physical illness, poverty, and being victims of violence. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently reported that 7.0% of New Mexico adults and 10.7% of New Mexico adolescents 12-17 years of age experience a major depressive disorder each year.

“Studies have shown that about half of the population will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental disorder sometime in their lifetime,” said DOH Mental Health Epidemiologist, Jessica Reno, MPH. “That means that if you talk to someone about the emotional problems you’re experiencing, there’s a good chance they will understand what you’re going through.”

To promote better mental health, talk to a primary care provider about the signs and symptoms of mental illness.

For New Mexicans who need help, either for themselves or someone they know, call the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (855).662.7474 to speak with a counselor and find a nearby provider.

The Children, Youth, and Families Department has also been highlighting mental health training opportunities for New Mexicans throughout the month. Gov. Susana Martinez issued a proclamation declaring May to be Mental Health Month throughout New Mexico. The Governor’s proclamation is available online here.

For information, resources, and treatment providers near you, visit SAMHSA’s website.

To obtain regional and county data in New Mexico, see the DOH 2015 New Mexico Regional Mental Health Reports here.

Additionally, more information on mental health data in New Mexico is available here.

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