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Bernalillo County’s Department of Behavioral Health Services Earns Five National Achievement Awards


Bernalillo County’s Department of Behavioral Health Services [DBHS] is excited to announce, five of their programs are being nationally recognized by the National Association of Counties. The five achievement awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

“I am so proud of the nationally-recognized results our department is delivering. These awards speak to the hard work of our DBHS team, our community, and our county leadership,” beamed DBHS Director, Margarita Chavez-Sanchez. She added, “To our community, your tax dollars are working, we are successfully innovating to change lives.”

“We recognize that for many, recovery is much more than navigating an addiction, but rather navigating life’s challenges. This national recognition exemplifies the work that the Department of Behavioral Health Services provides to the community is making an impact and changing lives,” says Julie Morgas Baca, County Manager.

The following programs will be honored:

1. Supportive Aftercare Program: Community Reintegration/ Parks & Recreation Category *Best in Category*

This program focuses on how the county’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department and the Supportive Aftercare Program (SAC), in the heart of Albuquerque’s International District, are collaborating to teach individuals how to access various community resources and use them as an asset to their overall wellbeing, while living as part of a unique sober community.

2. Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion [LEAD] Program/ Criminal Justice & Public Safety Category

Bernalillo County’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program is a public safety program in which police officers exercise discretionary authority to divert individuals suspected of low level, non-violent crime driven by unmet behavioral health needs to community-based health services instead of arrest, jail and prosecution.

In less than a year, 22 individuals have entered the program- all but one of those individuals have been connected to at least one community-based resource.

3. Narcan/ Naloxone Harm Reduction Program/ Health Category

For the past two decades, New Mexico has had one of the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths in the nation and has been on the forefront of many initiatives to reduce drug overdose fatalities through prevention strategies. The department has expanded its outreach efforts to improve the physical and behavioral health of high risk individuals through opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution.

4. Needle Mapping/ Information Technology

Bernalillo County has experienced an increase in the opioid epidemic and homeless population during the past few years. These issues have caused the community to get involved to address these issues, and take a holistic approach to resolving the issues. Data gathered by the county has also been shared with other public agencies, including the county, state, and cities to aid in the response to the opioid epidemic.

5. Youth Transitional Living Services/ Children & Youth

Bernalillo County’s youth transitional living services ensure that transition age youth who are precariously housed or homeless and have a behavioral health condition or addiction diagnosis remain engaged in community services and housed. Services include independent living supports, housing search and placement, vocational training, employment assistance, educational advancement, mental health and substance abuse treatment, financial empowerment, life skills, identity formation, and service coordination.

NACo President Mary Ann Borgeson said, “We are seeing firsthand now more than ever that counties work tirelessly to support our residents. This year’s Achievement Award-winning programs showcase how counties build healthy, safe and vibrant communities across America.”

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.

Started in 1970, NACo’s annual achievement awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.

You can read more about behavioral health services online at www.bernco.gov/dbhs.

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