Collaboration is in the air as the United Way of Northern New Mexico and Self Help recently launched a their new mental health website to educate community members about issues, resources and highlight local providers.
The project came about as a result of the growing concern about mental health issues, suicide, and misconceptions about seeking help in the community of Los Alamos. The website offers a broad spectrum of resources for elementary aged students, youth, millennials, and LANL employees.
“The United Way of Northern New Mexico stepped forward to offer funding to an organization who could conceptualize ways to increase understanding and access to mental health care,” said Ellen Morris Bond, Director of Self Help Inc. Self Help, Inc. received the grant and created the website with the help of a professional website designer.”
Morris Bond credits the success of the project with the United Way of Northern New Mexico taking the lead by hearing community concerns from mental health professionals and convening meetings covering subjects such as shortages of mental health practitioners (especially for children), insurance concerns, costs of obtaining office space, and patterns or trends they see in the community.
Volunteer Deborah Gill echoes the praise, “I’m thankful for the UWNNM Behavioral Health(y) Community Initiative which funded the LA Mental Health Access Program. Under the leadership and hard work of Self Help, Inc. Executive Director, Ellen Morris Bond, our community now has an additional tool to take care of the health of ourselves and each other.”
Morris Bond also praised the Los Alamos Medical Center for their generosity in providing facilities and dinner for the community meetings. She says the next step is working with broader governmental agencies to improve access for providers and their clients.
“Everyone has been touched in some way by mental illness or suicide. In 2012, the community experienced the loss of young men to suicide, and mental health practitioners have expressed their ongoing concerns about depression, anxiety, and suicide among our youth,” said Morris Bond. “Both adults and younger people may be quietly suffering and not knowing who to reach out to.”
Additional areas that were identified included concern for adults with severe mental illness in Los Alamos, who are housed in the jail. Often times, some of these individuals grew up in Los Alamos and return here because of family ties. A lack of ability to respond to severe mental illness may lead to individuals committing similar crimes multiple times, not necessarily because of criminal intent, but as a cry for help.
Thanks go to the many people who were interviewed before the website commenced, including the staff of LANL Occupational Medicine, the LANL Ombuds office, LAMC Emergency Room, Los Alamos Teen Center, LAHS nursing office, Los Alamos Social Service Department, Anne Hayes Egan of New Venture Consulting and JJAB.
It is important for all ages, educational levels and every socioeconomic status to seek the resources they need to be resilient in the face of adversity. Those wishing to see what opportunities are available can access the website at http://losalamosmentalhealth.org or http://losalamosmhap.org
The Los Alamos Mental Health Access Project, mission is connecting to emotional well-being. The website includes many resources for free and anonymous assistance, including options for texting, signs and symptoms and more.