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      08/15/2019

      Bernalillo County, NM- Today the City of Albuquerque and APD announced the launch of APD’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program [LEAD]. County LEAD is a collaborative effort between the Bernalillo County’s Department of Behavioral Health Services, the Sheriff’s Office, the City of Albuquerque, APD, Bernalillo County District Attorney, the Law Offices of the Public Defender, and individuals with lived experiences.

      Starting today, APD will have the ability to divert individuals who commit low-level drug offenses or low-level property crimes commissioned in order to get drugs, prostitution, or engage in activities such as trespassing, loitering and vagrancy. If the LEAD-trained officer believes the individual is an addict and/or has mental health challenges, is amenable to treatment, and at the discretion of the officer, the individual will be referred to a LEAD Case Manager who then consults with the DA’s office to gain approval for the diversion.

      “We are proud to be a part of the solution and work to divert appropriate clients away from the criminal justice system, toward treatment. APD is working diligently to bring community policing solutions such as LEAD and MCT to the residents that need it most,” said Deputy Chief Eric Garcia.

      APD will begin LEAD with its Problem Response Team in the south east area command in order to address a significant need in the area. This team has received specialized training in both enhanced crisis intervention training and LEAD for law enforcement in order to truly understand and implement the LEAD model.

      The program has received multiple referrals, to date, and is expected to increase the number with both law enforcement agencies now making diversions. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office intends to train all of its officers and Albuquerque Police Department will start with the SE Heights Area Problem Response Team and eventually increase to different teams.

      This program will allow law enforcement and the criminal justice system to focus their attention on more complicated cases and serious offenders. Evaluations of LEAD programs in Santa Fe and Seattle have demonstrated that they improve outcomes for individuals, reduce crime, and save money.

      These LEAD referrals will be connected by their case manager to other Behavioral Health Initiative services such a detox and supportive housing when appropriate. The Bernalillo County Department of Behavioral Health Services is proud to work closely with both APD and BCSO to provide LEAD in the community.


      08/09/2019

      The community within Bernalillo County has joined efforts to clean the community’s streets of needles and syringes, to make Bernalillo County a safe place to work and play. Since the advent of these efforts, over 13,000 needles have been reported and picked-up by various organizations including volunteers, city, and county workers.

      The county is taking an active role with collecting data surrounding these syringe efforts, by creating a live heat map of the affected areas. The county’s Planning & Development GIS (geographic information system) team created the app that allows members of the community to report needle pickup efforts and then records that data in a live heat map. The map will show trends and migration as the county continues to work toward ending the opioid epidemic.

      Bernalillo County Behavioral Health administrator, Dr. Sam Howarth, sees the importance of this tool, “As we continue to work towards the common goal of proper Sharps disposals, we are able to track this data and put it to use. This app will help us strategically map the migration of drug users and their patterns of travel while leaving their needles behind.”

      The app is available online by visiting www.bernco.gov/needles.

      “The Bernalillo County Department of Behavioral Health Services is excited to bring this community tool to our neighborhoods. As we continue working with the City of Albuquerque, Albuquerque Fire Rescue, Bernalillo County Fire Department, and other agencies, we are excited to announce this tool to the public, and look forward to the joint effort of safe needle disposal,” says Department of Behavioral Health Services Director Katrina Hotrum-Lopez.


      07/25/2019

      The Bernalillo County Department of Behavioral Health Services is currently accepting applications for committee members to sit on the Behavioral Health Initiative citizen-lead subcommittees. We are inviting interested community members to apply by submitting a letter of intent and resume. Our subcommittees consist of members with a compelling interest or expertise in behavioral health issues, technical advisors and staff who can provide us with sound ideas, decisions on unique issues, and a voice in the Behavioral Health Initiative of Bernalillo County.

      Albuquerque and the Bernalillo County area have a complex array of behavioral health and social services, through recent studies and community dialogues, four sub-committees were identified:

      • Crisis Services
      • Community Supports
      • Supportive Housing
      • Prevention, Intervention and Harm Reduction

      The purpose of the sub-committees is to bring together technical experts and individuals representing the community. They recommend the services needed within the four identified areas and help provide assessment of potential and current behavioral health projects.

      The four subcommittees each meet quarterly. The first meeting will be in early September 2019. To apply, please email a résumé and cover letter to BHInitiative@bernco.gov no later than 5 p.m. Friday, August 23, 2019. Applicants will be notified of selection by Friday, August 30, 2019.

      Download Full Letter>>


      07/03/2019

      Today Bernalillo County announced its newest behavioral health program, the Bernalillo County Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program [LEAD]. Bernalillo County LEAD is a collaborative effort between the Bernalillo County’s Division of Behavioral Health Services and Sheriff’s Office, the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department, the 2nd Judicial District Office of the District Attorney, the Law Offices of the Public Defender and individuals with lived experiences.

      Bernalillo County LEAD will serve individuals living with a substance use disorder or serious mental illness who typically cycle in and out of the criminal justice system for low-level crimes that are committed in order to sustain their addictions. This program seeks to reduce criminal activity by offering interventions and services that will help them address their addictions, rather than incarceration. By interrupting the cycle of crime and frequent visits to jail and hospital emergency departments, LEAD will instead provide access to treatment, recovery services, and trained LEAD case managers who help participants develop plans for recovery, stability and wellness.

      The diversion approach will focus on individuals who commit low-level drug offenses or low-level property crimes commissioned in order to get drugs, prostitution, or engage in activities such as trespassing, loitering and vagrancy. Individuals who have committed one of these offenses will be screened for a substance use disorder and/or mental illness. If a behavioral health condition is identified and if the LEAD-trained officer believes the individual is amenable to accessing treatment and other services, the officer will consult with the DA’s office and seek consent to divert rather than arrest, if there is consensus, the officer will coordinate with a LEAD case manager who will determine the best diversion options for the individual.

      “There is a link between untreated behavioral health conditions, substance use, homelessness, and illegal activity - all of which are costly to our entire community. By coming together to create a system of care, we’re making our community safer and helping individuals get the treatment they need. That benefits everyone in Bernalillo County,” said Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins.

      “I’m so proud of our County and community for coming together to create meaningful programs that help those who are living with a behavioral health condition. We are leading by example, remedying a system that for decades has been failing those it was intended to help. I greatly look forward to witnessing the outcomes of this program here in my hometown of the South Valley,” said Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada.

      The program will also allow law enforcement and the justice system to focus their attention on more complicated cases and serious offenders.

      “I am pleased to know there will be another tool to help those who are addicted to drugs or have mental health issues. This system will have a positive impact on our community. Any effort to break the cycle of addiction is a proactive approach to reducing crime in Bernalillo County. I look forward to the results of this program and commend the restorative approach among county officials to better serve our community,” said Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III.

      Expected outcomes include lower crime and emergency visits, in addition to a higher quality of life for those who will benefit from access to medical, recovery and social services. Case studies of other cities which have LEAD programs demonstrate significant savings to the system, as well as reduction in recidivism. Incorporating similar techniques, Boulder, Colorado’s program has realized approximately $3 million in savings annually in jail and emergency department costs.

      If an individual in the LEAD program commits another crime or fails to complete the intake process, charges will be filed for the diverted offenses.

      Initial funding for the Bernalillo County LEAD program came from a national grant award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Urban Institute’s Innovation Fund that provided $50,000. Additionally, Bernalillo County will receive $ 189,714 from the New Mexico state legislature to further support LEAD.

      Trained Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputies will kick off LEAD in the South Valley initially and will begin making diversions today, on July 2nd, 2019. In the not-too-distant future Albuquerque Police Department officers will initiate LEAD in Albuquerque’s International District.


      06/24/2019

      Bernalillo 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 admittances were Edgewood residents.

      In a move to make services more accessible, Bernalillo and Santa Fe County are teaming up to create a hub for behavioral health services in Edgewood. 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.

      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.”

      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.”

      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.


      05/21/2019

      Bernalillo County - Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque are once again collaborating on a behavioral health-focused project through the Behavioral Health Initiative. Today they announced the Single-Site Housing Project, which they will collectively fund up to $5 million.

      Bernalillo County will be contributing $1 million annually for services and $2 Million one-time dollars for capital investments. The City of Albuquerque’s one-time funding contribution of $2 Million will help cover construction costs, along with the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority’s contributions of more than $4 million to the project.

      HopeWorks, formerly St. Martins, is the social service provider that will own and operate the facility – a groundbreaking is scheduled later this fall. This Single-Site Housing Project will focus on providing housing and intensive services for individuals with a behavioral health condition who are living on the streets or in a precarious housing situation, and have a recent history of frequently utilizing emergency room, detox services, and/or multiple bookings into the Metropolitan Detention Center.

      “This priority population will include the more challenging cases in our community,” said Commission Vice Chair Debbie O’Malley. “These are folks who have intense behavioral health needs and require another layer of assistance to get into a home and to maintain their housing and stability. We know the need for these services is great, and are excited that this project will be the first single-site, permanent, supportive housing program in Bernalillo County.”

      The housing program will provide “permanent supportive housing”, meaning that as long as housing and supportive services are needed, they will be provided.

      “Studies show that this type of model can be life-changing for those involved,” said City Councilor Isaac Benton. “We’re talking about a very specific group who are the most vulnerable in the community and putting them in housing where they receive services and support based on their level of need, so we’re really going to be customizing this around the clients.”

      Greg Morris, Executive Director of HopeWorks agreed, and added that “Having staff on-site will be what distinguishes this project from existing scattered-site housing programs and will make a significant difference for our most vulnerable clients.”

      The site will be able to accommodate a total of 42 people, all in single bedroom apartments. Services provided by Hope Works will include onsite case management, individual and group therapy, peer support services, substance abuse counseling and psycho-social rehabilitation services.

      According to the 2017 Point-in-Time (PIT) count, the Albuquerque metro area is home to 1,318 homeless individuals (NMCEH, 2017). The PIT count is the number of people who are experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque on one specific night in January. This number gives a baseline estimate of the minimum number of people who were sleeping outside, in a shelter, or in transitional housing the night of the PIT count. It does not include how many people were staying in motels or doubled up with family or friends or who were not counted.

      This announcement was made at the fourth annual Mental Health on the Plaza event, where more than 55 Behavioral Health providers gathered to share information, resources and services to individuals living with a behavioral health condition. Family members also attended the event to garner information and ask questions about navigation the behavioral health system. ‘Behavioral Health’ is an all-encompassing phrase which includes mental illnesses and/or addictions.

      Together, Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque are strategically leveraging resources and making decisions with community member and stakeholder inputs through the Behavioral Health Initiative. This endeavor creates a model for improving behavioral health outcomes that could be replicated across the country.


      05/10/2019

      Bernalillo County - As a state that neighbors Mexico, New Mexico, is naturally a location chosen by asylum seekers. In light of the recent border issues, Bernalillo County has created a program to assist young asylum seekers and their families in the aftermath of their traumatic situations.

      This May, Bernalillo County will approve an amendment to expand the County’s contract with PB&J Family Services as part of the ACEs program, which is focused on reducing Adverse Childhood Experiences. The amendment expansion is for $100,000, funded by the Behavioral Health gross receipt tax.

      “It’s wonderfully inspirational to see our community come together to support non-profits and volunteers, all in an effort to help asylum seekers adjust to and find their new homes,” said Katrina Hotrum Lopez, Director of the Department of Behavioral Health Services. “We know these efforts will go along way, but we felt that consistent, professional support was another critical component that wasn’t being provided. With this program families will be able to receive an additional level of support as they acclimate and try to process the trauma they’ve experienced in order to get to a safe place to call ‘home’.”

      “I’m proud to live in and represent an immigrant-friendly community,” said Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada. “It only makes sense that we would not only have physical supportive services in place for asylum seekers, but also have behavioral health services available. The hope is that our partnership with PB&J will help our newest arrivals process the chaos they’ve endured, while also trying to prevent negative behavioral health outcomes in the future.”

      Supportive services will include bilingual, culturally competent crisis intervention, parenting classes, family bonding activities, help processing trauma, short-term case management, and transportation.

      In total, the Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Initiative, administered by the Department of Behavioral Health Services, has created and funded 19 programs that make-up the behavioral health continuum. Nearly 98% of the annual behavioral health dollars have been appropriated to these programs.

      Together, Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque are strategically leveraging resources and making decisions with community member and stakeholder inputs through the Behavioral Health Initiative. This endeavor creates a model for improving behavioral health outcomes that could be replicated across the country. For more information about BHI click here.


      04/30/2019

      Bernalillo County, NM- Sadly, New Mexico has some of the highest rates of mental illness and substance abuse in the nation- highlighting the need for a continuum of behavioral health care. In 2015 Bernalillo County created the Behavioral Health Initiative [BHI] to build that system of care, to date, the BHI has created 19 programs.

      Training and Education is the most recent program of the BHI, aimed to help both professionals and community members increase their knowledge of behavioral health. Funded programs will include training sessions for professionals on topics such co-occurring disorders, cultural competency and trauma informed care. Participants will be equipped with enhanced skills to improve the quality of care for the clients they serve. Community education sessions will provide the community with an increased awareness, knowledge and skills in behavioral health through topics such as motivational interviewing and trauma informed schools. For example, coaches and foster caregivers, who provide care at a critical time for youths, could receive training to engage with the kids in their care. Train-the-trainer programs will also focus on raising awareness and providing skills to deal with behavioral health conditions for first responders, parole officers, and detention officers. The overarching goal being that developing early awareness of mental illness and substance abuse can encourage treatment, improve quality of life, and reduce stigmas.

      “Middle school, high school and college represent incredibly formative years and are the ideal time to help people identify if they’re experiencing a behavioral health challenge. Studies have showed that early identification and access to treatment and resources are key to effective, long-term behavioral health care and wellness,” said Commissioner Chair Maggie Hart Stebbins. “Through our Education and Training program we’re promoting supportive resources, empowerment, and knowledge during these critical chapters and for people who are at-risk.”

      “Outcomes from this program will span across the community,” said Katrina Hotrum-Lopez the Director of the Department of Behavioral Health Services, which administers the BHI. “We hope to see these education and training efforts contribute to more positive interactions with peers, friends, teachers, employers, landlords, and law enforcement as well as increasing awareness of behavioral health conditions across our entire community. Not only can these services help individuals who are living with a behavioral health condition but could also help prevent behavioral health issues from developing.”

      County Commissioners appropriated up to $1 Million, per year, towards these education, training, and social marketing efforts. Motivational Interviewing Inc., Serna Solutions, and the Bernalillo County Health Council have been contracted to provide these services over the next three years.


      04/29/2019

      “Take A Ride on Us” Program Offers Albuquerque Metro Residents a Safe Ride Option Over Cinco de Mayo

      ENDWI, Bernalillo County, Uber, and Cumulus Media Albuquerque Continue Fight against Drunk Driving

      Bernalillo County, N.M. – The New Mexico Department of Transportation, Bernalillo County, Uber, Ron Bell Injury Lawyers and Cumulus Media Albuquerque, today, announced details for a safe ride option for Cinco de Mayo celebrations. The program titled “Take A Ride on Us” provides Albuquerque Metro residents the ability to take advantage of a safe ride option instead of driving under the influence during the Cinco de Mayo weekend in which alcohol consumption is common.

      Rather than drive under the influence, from noon on May 3rd through 3 a.m. on May 6th. Albuquerque metro residents can open the Uber app and use the code ABQCINCO19. By using the code, riders will receive a credit of up to $10 off for up to two trips. The maximum amount of trips available is 800. First come, first served. The credit can only be used for rides, not Uber Eats, and the discount does not cover tip.

      “Take A Ride on Us” was created by Cumulus Media Albuquerque. The program has seen massive success through the incredible partnership of Uber, Bernalillo County, and ENDWI. Listeners will be reminded about the code throughout Cinco de Mayo on Cumulus Media Albuquerque’s radio stations: 94.5 FM and AM 770 News Radio KKOB, 93.3 KOB-FM, 92.3 KRST, 103.3 eD FM, Magic 99-5, 96.3 Nash Icon, 95.9 FM and AM 610 The Sports Animal, and 1050 KTBL.

      Through this public-private partnership it’s easier than ever to avoid driving under the influence. Since the program began in the summer of 2017, “Take A Ride on us has provided a safe ride option to over 14,500 riders in the Albuquerque Metro area since the inception of the Take a Ride on Us program.

      Cumulus Media Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, ENDWI, Ron Bell Injury Lawyers and Uber, encourage Albuquerque area residents to take advantage of this program rather than drive under the influence. By drinking responsibly and using the “Take a Ride on Us program,” together we can ENDWI.


      04/29/2019

      Stories of lives affected by mental illness

      Join us for a live performance of “Minds Interrupted: Stories of Lives Affected by Mental Illness,” an evening of poignant monologues that highlights the powerful stories of the struggles, persistence, and hope of individuals and families impacted by mental illness. Written and presented by seven residents from Albuquerque and surrounding areas, these heartfelt stories of pain, confusion, resilience and humor help to break the silence surrounding these serious illnesses. They shed light on the dedication and courage of those who live with mental illness day in and day out.


      One in four American families are affected by chronic mental illness, including schizophrenia; bipolar, posttraumatic stress and other anxiety disorders. Yet, the stigma, shame, stereotypes, and secrecy surrounding these illnesses is so prevalent that people talk much less openly about them than about others, such as cancer or heart disease. This program promises to lend a hand in changing that.

      The event is produced by Breaking the Silence/New Mexico, a nonprofit dedicated to mental health literacy and advocacy for all ages through education and the arts. Our primary focus is educating upper elementary, middle and high school youth in the classroom about mental illness, suicide, and stigma. This school year we have presented in 9 New Mexico counties at 40 schools to over 4,200 youth.

      Silent Auction & Light Refreshments: 5:30-6:30pm (all are welcome)

      Theatre doors open at 6:30pm

      Show starts at 7:00pm


      04/24/2019

      Drop off your unused Rx or over-the-counter drugs this Saturday, April 27 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the National Guard Armory, 600 Wyoming Blvd. NE.

      The National Prescription Drug Take Back day addresses crucial public safety and public health issues. The events provide an important opportunity for Americans to help prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

      Click here to view more information>>


      03/27/2019

      Bernalillo County & the City of Albuquerque welcomes the community, behavioral healthcare providers and nonprofits to participate in the Bernalillo County Mental Health Awareness Day on May 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Civic Plaza.

      County leaders and partners will highlight extensive mental health services currently provided by Bernalillo County. Behavioral health providers and nonprofits will have an opportunity to set-up information booths on the plaza and share details about their resources with the public. Vendor Registration>>

      The Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Initiative represents a significant step forward in local efforts toward addressing and preventing the mental health, substance abuse, addiction, and homeless crisis in Albuquerque / Bernalillo County and the middle Rio Grande region of New Mexico. 

       

       


      03/20/2019

      Bernalillo County, NM- For so many individuals living with addiction or a mental health condition, peer support is key to their recovery and wellness. That’s why Bernalillo County’s Behavioral Health Initiative [BHI] is opening four Peer Drop-In Centers across the County. Today’s center is located at the County’s Westside Community Center and is being run by BHI Vendor, Albuquerque Center for Hope and Recovery [ACHR]. 

      “For far too long members of our community, living with a mental health condition or an addiction, did not have a place to go or had limited options- this is now the second peer drop-in center that we’ve launched in the past few months and we plan on opening an additional location on the Westside later this year,” said County Commission Vice Chair, Debbie O’Malley. “If you’re living with a behavioral health condition please know- wellness and recovery do not need to be goals that you reach for alone- there is help, there is support, there are people who want to be here for you and know first-hand what you’re dealing with. This South Valley Peer Drop-In Center will be a safe place of understanding and support.”

      Last year, in their downtown location alone, ACHR provided services to 250 people, with the expansion of this new location, their goal is to connect with twice as many people.

      Some of the peer-to-peer recovery services that will be offered by ACHR include, Job Development (both in partnership with DVR and as an Employment Network with SSA), Value Added Services, Pathways Navigation, Life Skills, Parenting Groups, Art Empowerment, Choice Recovery Path, and Addicts to Athletes [A2A].

      The County contracts for the four Peer Drop-In Centers with New Day and ACHR is $300,000. This location and the location on the west side will total $150,000.


      03/01/2019

      BERNALILLO COUNTY, NM — Every year, Albuquerque’s Westside Emergency Housing Center that opens in November closes again when warmer weather arrives in March. That closure leaves the more than 300 men, women, and children, served each night by the shelter, limited options to get off the streets.

      That changed today. At an event at the facility, Mayor Tim Keller and Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca joined other City and County officials and shelter managers to cement a new partnership that keeps the Westside Emergency Housing Center open year-round and increases access to services.

      Mayor Keller said, “Homelessness is a harsh reality in Albuquerque and it’s going to take all of us working together to make a real impact. We’ve heard the message from residents, from businesses, from our public safety agencies, and Albuquerque is ready to make finding solutions to the homelessness crisis a priority. Extending the operations of this facility is a stop gap, but an incredibly important one, while we find solutions for year-round facilities as part of our comprehensive approach. Until then, we’re making sure that people have a place to go and better access to meals and critical services. We appreciate all of our partners across governments and in the community who are stepping up.”

      "We're honored to be able to help add this needed service to the community. We see the Westside Shelter as a temporary safe haven for those experiencing homelessness and to those living with a behavioral health condition, because our ultimate goal is stability and housing. To date, our Behavioral Health Initiative has started 18 different programs that are already making progress in our community, this collaboration is another avenue for people who need behavioral health support to receive it," said County Manager Julie Morgas Baca.

      Heading Home, a New Mexico non-profit that provides emergency housing, permanent supportive housing services and prioritizes street outreach to people experiencing homelessness, will continue to operate the shelter, which has been funded by the City of Albuquerque in the past.

      In addition to joining the City in funding shelter operations, the County will also contribute staffing for a Community Engagement Team at the shelter that will increase access to clinical services, recovery, coping skills and other support on an individualized basis. The two entities will also work together to coordinate pickups for the Metropolitan Assessment Treatment Services at Coronado Park.

      The Westside shelter is a key piece of the City’s existing homelessness service infrastructure. It serves single men, single women, and families with children experiencing homelessness, averaging 324 people per night in January 2019. Overnight capacity is 450 beds. In the past, it has been open from November to March. This winter it has served 1,263 distinct individuals. Keeping it open year-round will cost $4.6 million annually.

      The County partnership mirrors other collaboration happening in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to address the underlying causes of homelessness, including behavioral and mental health. Those staying at the Shelter represent populations that the City and County are trying to serve through a variety of additional programs and services:

      • 41% of residents who have stayed at the Westside Shelter have a self-reported mental health condition
      • 23% have a self-reported alcohol or substance abuse condition.
      • The shelter houses families with children of all ages who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets.


      The City of Albuquerque is working with the University of New Mexico, UNM Health Sciences Center, Bernalillo County, the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and a network of community-based providers on a systematic and comprehensive approach to homelessness.


      02/08/2019

      Bernalillo County is hosting the Soul, Science and Culture of HOPE, a 2.5-hour event exploring how communities can help youth succeed with hope, on Wednesday, February 13 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the South Valley Multipurpose Senior Center, 2008 Larrazolo Road SW.

      The event includes a networking opportunity and a discussion about the culture of hope, and how families, schools and youth-organizations can use hope for the success of all children.

      The Soul, Science and Culture of HOPE is presented by Antwone Fisher and Rick Miller. Fisher is an author and the inspiration behind the movie Antwone Fisher starring Denzel Washington. Miller is the cofounder of the Center for the Advanced Study and Practice of HOPE, the founder of Kids at Hope and a professor at Arizona State University.

      The event will explore Antwone Fisher’s journey of hope through his writings and film and how those themes relate to the science and opportunities hope provides.

      Admission is free for the Soul, Science and Culture of HOPE.  For more information, please contact Joelle Jacobs at jjacobs@bernco.gov.


      01/14/2019

      In collaboration with Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque Department of Family & Community Services, local high school students and a wide array of community partners, New Day Youth and Family Services will open Bernalillo County’s first – and only – drop-in center focused on mental/behavioral health support and prevention. Media are invited to the Open House and Press Conference on January 14th, 2019 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

      Named by young people, Youth BLAST (“Building Lives Around Self Truth”) will provide multiple avenues to support belonging and building community for young people, ages 16-22, who are seeking a sense of connection and who may lack supportive, positive peers and adult role models. Connection and belonging are vital developmental needs for young people’s positive mental and behavioral health and for their meaningful integration into community.

      The Youth BLAST Drop-In Center is a collaborative partnership with more than 14 nonprofit agencies, local alternative charter high school students, Bernalillo County’s Behavioral Health Initiative and the City of Albuquerque.

      Together, these groups will provide comprehensive, holistic services with a focus on developing community and a safe, inclusive space for youth to experience belonging. Young people will design and implement leadership groups and outreach activities, with paid Peer Advocates receiving training to support young people with mental/behavioral health needs. Youth BLAST will also offer services and supports, such as legal, academic and employment coaching, physical health screenings, mental/behavioral health support, crisis intervention and more. Youth BLAST will collect and distribute food, clothing and hygiene products for basic needs as well as school supplies.

      “Our city’s teens and youth are extremely vulnerable if they don’t have a safe place to live or even to just spend time when they are out of school and no one is home,” said Steve Johnson New Day Youth and Family Services’ Executive Director. “Plus, Albuquerque has a large number of young people who are not enrolled in school and are not working. We are very interested in connecting with them. And we want to minimize any barriers, so -no paperwork or referrals to enter.”

      Youth BLAST will be located at the Johnny Tapia Community Center at Wells Park 500 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, and will be open Wednesdays through Fridays 12 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

      All of Youth BLAST’s services are designed to be low-barrier and to reduce reluctance to give out personal information while providing what young people who may be experiencing homelessness or who are at risk or living in poverty need to survive and to take care of basic health needs. If youth request more information or services New Day will provide referrals and connections to additional services, such as shelter, housing, school re-entry, counseling, medical care, etc.

      “[Young people experiencing homelessness or a mental health condition] are extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and yet, they are often turned away from every agency that could help them,” said Bette Fleishman, Executive Director at Pegasus Legal Services for Children, one of the 14 agencies partnering on Youth BLAST to provide for as many needs as possible under one roof. “These youth are in a legal limbo – they cannot get help without identity documents, but they cannot get identity documents without help. Albuquerque needs a place these youth can go with no conditions or pre-requisites; a place that welcomes them with open arms as they are, builds their trust, and offers help when and how the youth request it."

      “Youth BLAST is really about being a place that feels safe and inclusive for youth, with no requirements, where they can come, be seen and accepted for who they are, authentically feel a sense of belonging, establish positive connections with others, and opportunities for them to thrive” said Ali Moore, New Day’s Youth BLAST Drop-In Center Director. “We’re going to keep it low-barrier, so that young people who may be distrustful of adults and of ‘programs’ feel more comfortable getting the things they need, no strings attached. And, if they ask and desire it, we’ll refer them to other services that they need – but only when they ask and are ready.”


      12/18/2018

      Bernalillo County, NM- For some people who are experiencing homelessness, being placed in housing (known as “Scattered Site”) that is separate from supportive services simply does not work. That’s why Bernalillo County is set to rollout a new housing program utilizing the Single-Site Supportive Housing model. This creates a community and network of services alongside housing to better serve individuals and their family members who need additional, nearby support. Approximately 40-60 housing units will be available with on-site support services to include case manage. Up to 30 of the Housing Vouchers will be for Veterans and will be provided by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD].

      The Single-Site Housing plan will serve veterans, individuals, and their family members with significant behavioral health challenges who are homeless or precariously housed. It’s designed to promote family reunification, stability and recovery.

      “Housing is one of the very first steps towards stability, it literally provides a stable home base. Being able to recover in the place you call home, having access to services in a place where you feel safe and being surrounded by your loved ones, all of these characteristics of a single-site housing program contribute to recovery, success, and wellness,” said Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley.

      County Manager Julie Morgas Baca echoed the significance of this project, “I know our Commissioners are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to vote on this project, because this is Bernalillo County stepping-up our housing program to include our veterans. It is important to provide a variety of housing programs to accommodate the varying needs of our community. With the launch of this program we’ll be filling a void, reducing homelessness, improving quality of life, reuniting families, and better serving our veterans.”

      As is the case with all the Behavioral Health Initiative programs, best-practices and evidence-based data were utilized to prioritize this program. Studies have shown that greater time spent in a single- site is associated with reduced use of services that are publicly funded and improved health outcomes. Research also suggests that populations with higher levels of need have better outcomes in single-site facilities where more services are provided on site and support is built into the structure of their living environment.

      This program proposal will go before the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Governing Commission and the Bernalillo County Commission for a vote with a request to fund the program for $1 M/yr and a one-time, capital investment of up to $8 M to secure, build, or remodel the campus location.


      11/19/2018

      ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - It's a new program aimed at putting an end to petty crimes by people who suffer from drug abuse and mental illness. It's also supposed to help put these people back on the road to recovery so they don't offend again.

      Bernalillo County commissioners recently approved bringing the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program, or 'LEAD,' to the area. The idea is to give some people the option to either get help or go to jail.

      "If we don't address the root causes of what's driving people's criminal behavior, they're going to continue to cycle in and out of our jail," says Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins. Hart Stebbins says a lot of the criminal behavior throughout the county comes from people who suffer from drug abuse or mental illness.

      She's hoping LEAD will help stop some of the crime. "For some people if they're committing a property crime to feed an addiction, they have the option of getting into treatment," says Hart Stebbins. LEAD was approved by the commission earlier this week with a $250,000 price tag.

      The county will work with APD, BCSO, MDC, the DA's Office, and public defenders. So far, APD is embracing the idea. "Police interact with them on a daily basis, and I think it makes sense to get them the services they need rather than to lock them up," says Gilbert Gallegos with APD. Police say sending people with drug or mental health issues to jail doesn't help them overcome their struggles. "So if they get those services, they're most more likely to find employment and homes," says Gallegos.

      The program has already been successfully implemented in Santa Fe and Seattle. Commissioner Hart Stebbins says those two cities were the biggest inspirations to kick start LEAD in Bernalillo County. "We learn a lot from Seattle, from Santa Fe, from some of the communities where this is functioning. That's what we want to do. Not recreate the wheel, but learn from others. What works, what doesn't. How can we be successful here," she says.

      A majority of that $250,000 will go towards hiring case managers to work with the people entering into the program. The county hopes to hire at least four case managers. County Commissioners still need to identify what crimes are considered 'non-violent.' The hope is to have this program up and running by July 2019.


      11/16/2018

      Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Initiative Receives $1.4 Million for CONNECT Program

      Partnership with UNM-Health Sciences Center provides critical interventions for youth at risk for psychosis in Bernalillo County

      Bernalillo County, NM- This week officials with Bernalillo County received notice from the U.S. Department of Health’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that the county has been awarded a $1.6 million grant to fund Community Programs for Outreach and Intervention with Youth and Young Adults at Clinical High Risk for Psychosis over a four-year period. The new program, called CONNECT (Collaborative Interdisciplinary Evaluation and Community Based Treatment), is part of the Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Initiative (BHI) and will be located at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNM HSC), with BHI acting as the fiscal agent for the project. It’s an example of one of the many ways the BHI has leveraged dollars to expand services utilizing funding that is not coming from Behavioral Health tax dollars.

      Bernalillo County submitted an application for the grant, through a competitive process, and was one of only a couple of dozen entities selected to receive the funding. CONNECT will serve youth 12 to 25 years old who are experiencing worrisome changes in their thoughts, experiences or feelings, which may indicate an increased risk of developing a serious mental health disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Participants will be identified based upon a comprehensive assessment and will be offered up to two years of treatment, which will include an individually tailored combination of mental health education, access to medication, group or family psychotherapy, case management services and educational and vocational assistance. The team of service providers working with youth participants will include peer specialists with first-hand experience facing mental health issues and navigating recovery. CONNECT will incorporate other UNM HSC and Bernalillo County community-based programs to provide a comprehensive matrix of services.

      “Identifying serious mental health issues and providing access to services while individuals experiencing these challenges are still young can be key to mitigating more significant, long term negative impacts,” said Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, director of BHI for Bernalillo County. “In working with the experts at UNM Health Sciences Center, we are extremely pleased to be the beneficiaries of such a significant grant award, which will allow us to improve the quality of life for thousands of young people coping with mental illness in our community.”

      Dr. Roshel Lenroot, the Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Research at UNM HSC echoed those sentiments, acknowledging the value of the award and partnership. “Bernalillo County’s CONNECT program will allow us to reach a great number of young people in our community who are at high risk for or who are already experiencing psychosis and provide them the tools they require to navigate the challenges of serious mental illness. As with other BHI initiatives, CONNECT and the significant resources associated with the program, provides a highly effective mechanism for delivering quality, coordinated care to those in need in Bernalillo County.”


      11/16/2018

      BHI Creates Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program to Reduce Recidivism Among Low-Level Offenders

      Multi-agency LEAD collaboration will help non-violent individuals receive much needed services to improve outcomes and prevent future offenses

      Bernalillo County, NM- This week officials with the Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Initiative (BHI) announced the county is receiving $50,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Innovation Fund to pursue an evidence-based program which employs diversion strategies for individuals with substance use disorders (SUD) or serious mental illness (SMI) who cycle in and out of the justice system for low level crimes. The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program proposes interventions for low-level offenses for individuals who struggle with SUD and/or SMI, which will in turn reduce recidivism among this population resulting in lower crime and fewer emergency room visits. Beyond the recognized benefit to the individuals who will receive medical and recovery services, the program will lower costs to the community and allow the justice system to focus on serious offenders.

      LEAD effort represents a collaboration among several justice system partners including the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office (DA), and the Public Defender. diversion approach will focus on low-level drug offenses and property crimes, prostitution and activities such as trespassing, loitering and vagrancy, for which individuals will be screened for substance use disorders and serious mental illness. When SUD or SMI are identified, law enforcement personnel will consult with the DA’s office seeking consent to divert rather than arrest, and if there is consensus, then coordinate with a case manager who will determine the best diversion options for the individual. Funds will be utilized to support case management services. Case managers will work with MATS to engage the individual in detox, supportive after care and inebriate intervention programs as well as inpatient substance abuse treatment services. first phase of the LEAD program will be piloted out of Albuquerque’s SE Area Command, where APD Officers will use LEAD strategies to incorporate a diversion approach for low level offenders.

      Individuals served by the LEAD program who are struggling with drug abuse disorders and/or mental illness, will receive ongoing health and social services support in order to break the cycle of recidivism and achieve a better quality of life. Other targeted outcomes for both individuals and the community include improved housing retention, increased access to preventative medical and behavioral health services, enhanced education and employment opportunities and reduced costs to the criminal justice and medical systems. Case studies of other cities which have LEAD programs demonstrate significant savings to the system, as well as reduction in recidivism. Incorporating similar techniques, Boulder, Colorado’s program has realized approximately $3 million in savings annually in jail and emergency department costs.

      “The Bernalillo County LEAD program is reflective of a system-wide commitment to improving outcomes and reducing harm for individuals struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues in our community, with the added long-term benefit of reducing crime,” said Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, Director of Bernalillo County BHI. “When we work together to leverage resources and reduce harm, the positive implications for improved quality of life for our residents is tremendous.”

      “Together with Bernalillo County, the Albuquerque Police Department has increased its focus on strategies to end the cycle of repeat offenders returning to the community to commit additional crimes. This program does so in a compassionate way, that provides help for individuals whose low-level crimes are often fueled by mental illness or substance abuse and addiction. We are proud to be a partner in this effort,” said Deputy Chief Eric Garcia.

      “There is growing demand for criminal justice reform across the country, and local jurisdictions are leading the way,” said Laurie Garduque, MacArthur’s Director of Justice Reform. “MacArthur is increasing our investment in local just reform innovations because we are seeing promising results and an appetite for more reform as evidenced by the diversity and creativity of the solutions implemented and tested across the Network.”

      Bernalillo County was one of 12 jurisdictions to receive grants from the Innovation Fund to design and test innovative criminal justice reforms. According to its mission, the MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.


      11/16/2018

      Bernalillo County Partners with Health Council to Prevent Opioid Overdose Deaths

      New Agreement Will Expand Access to Live-Saving Resources

      Bernalillo County, NM- Last week officials with the Bernalillo County Department of Behavioral Health (DBHS) entered into an agreement with the Bernalillo County Community Health Council (BCCHC) which will increase access to life-saving Narcan medication in order to reduce deaths from opioid overdoses in Bernalillo County.

      As part of the agreement, DBHS is now a community distribution site for Narcan through the BCCHC, beginning with 50 Narcan kits to be provided to the department by the health council, with additional kits provided on an ongoing basis. Training to administer Narcan will be provided by the council to DBHS service providers who work with individuals struggling with substance abuse and addiction. In addition to critical opioid overdose prevention education, upon discharge Narcan kits will be made available upon request to all clients who receive services for opioid addiction through DBHS, to include training on proper administration of the medication. Community members in need may also request Narcan kits from BCDH.

      From 2013 to 2015, 374 people died from opioid overdoses in Bernalillo County, according to the Bernalillo County Community Health Council. When administered timely and properly, Narcan counteracts the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist and can reverse the effects of opioids by restoring normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdose by heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.

      “The Department of Behavioral Health works proactively to prevent and treat substance abuse issues in Bernalillo County, however we know that opioids are a particularly insidious drug, with a high incidence of fatal overdose,” said Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, Director of DBHS. “Our partnership with the Bernalillo County Community Health Council continues to prove invaluable, and we are grateful for the life-saving services and resources they provide in our community.”


      11/15/2018

      More Than $600,000 Committed to Support Bernalillo County in Reducing the Number of People in Jail with Mental Illness

      Funds will develop program featuring peer support case managers to connect individuals to services as they exit incarceration

      Bernalillo County, NM- Bernalillo County officials are pleased to announce that the Department of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) is the recipient of a Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs for over $488,000. The federal grant will be partially matched at the local level resulting in almost $612,000 in additional funds over a two-year period. Bernalillo County was one of just 11 jurisdictions from around the country selected for this highly competitive federal award.

      The grant includes technical assistance from national experts in jail re-entry programs to support collaboration and program development. Part of the grant funding will support providing case management services to individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders or co-occurring disorders who currently face numerous and difficult obstacles connecting to needed services when transitioning back to community from jail. Individuals who meet the screening criteria will be eligible to receive assistance from a case manager who will help ensure the client makes successful connections to community-based services that address immediate needs.

      Currently upon release, community health workers at the Reentry Resource Center (RRC), which came online this past June, help recently-released individuals with basic needs, employment and education resources, shelter and referrals to community-based treatment, counseling and medical services. This grant will enhance case management activities already occurring by targeting “connecting” services towards those exiting individuals identified at MDC as needing more intensive support during transition to be successful and reduce their chances of returning to jail. The program will feature peer support community health workers with lived experience, which is shown to be an effective best practice. As many as 7,000 individuals exiting the jail a year could be eligible for services based on MDC’s history of those incarcerated who utilize psychiatric services.

      “Our Resource Re-entry Center is filling a major gap in the behavioral health system. Now, with this new funding, we’ll be able to build an additional layer of support- from people who have first-hand experience and can empathize with the individuals coming through the RRC,” said County Manager Julie Morgas Baca.

      JMHCP grants emphasize cross-agency, cross-system collaborations that span criminal justice and mental health systems with the specific aim of developing evidence-based solutions that reduce the number of individuals with mental illness in county jails. Partners in the program will include many of the core members of the Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council which is made up of the District Court, Metropolitan Court, District Attorney, Public Defender, Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, just to name a few. The program will also collaborate closely with UNM Health Sciences and other divisions within UNM.

      “Men and women leaving our jail with mental illness or co-occurring disorders face a number of barriers and complications navigating, on their own, the services they need to manage their disease and keep from being arrested again,” said Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, director of BHI for Bernalillo County. “The county is committed to working with these individuals to help them connect to the things they most need following time in jail. Communities that do this effectively save public dollars within health and criminal justice systems and improve public safety.”

       


      09/26/2018

      Having a peer help people navigate their recovery and mental stability can be the key to lasting success. According to a study done in 2011 by the University of Texas, “43% of Community Centers indicated the most significant benefit is peer specialists being able to connect consumers with service and offering them hope; 35% indicated that promoting recovery was the most significant benefit.”

      New Mexico has higher rates of mental illness than the national average. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates two out of 10 adults experienced a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder in the past year. SAMHSA also considers peer support a best practice.

      These statistics and best practices have prompted Bernalillo County’s Behavioral Health Initiative to create Peer Drop-In Centers throughout Bernalillo County. Today, Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins and Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca announced the $300,000 in contracts, the plans, and the providers, New Day and Albuquerque Center for Hope and Recovery [ACHR].

      “An informal survey a few years ago showed that Bernalillo County residents living with mental illness identified peer support services as a very high priority. Yet such services have been difficult to access here in our community,” said Commissioner Hart Stebbins. “These new Drop-In Centers will fill that gap with trained peer specialists who use their lived experience to support others in recovery by offering navigation, education and, most importantly, hope to people living with mental health challenges.”

       

      New Day and ACHR are reviewing their real estate options to create the Centers. ACHR is hoping to locate one on the west side and in the South Valley of Bernalillo County. The City of Albuquerque will be providing space for the drop-in center that New Day will be running at the Johnny Tapia Community Center.

      Peer-to-peer recovery services like building on or rebuilding social skills, education and training, vocational training, and job placement providing resources to help individuals with their personal recovery journey. The Centers also act as a place where peers can interact with one another and form a sense community.

      Available resources can include information on how to negotiate insurance barriers to treatment, outreach to families and individuals, connecting them to behavioral health services, treatment, and education.

      The services will be provided by certified peer advocates, peer support workers, certified peer specialists, recovery coaches, volunteers and other staff to support peers and families, both individually and in small groups.

      This announcement appropriately comes in the middle of September, national recovery and suicide awareness month.

      Together, Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque are strategically leveraging resources and making decisions with community member and stakeholder inputs through the Behavioral Health Initiative. This endeavor creates a model for improving behavioral health outcomes that could be replicated across the country. For more information about BHI click here.

       

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      Contact: Breanna Anderson

      abizbybre@gmail.com

      C. (505) 228.5556

       


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