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Massive Behavioral Health Training and Education Efforts Launched by Bernalillo County

3:31 PM
Breanna Anderson, (505) 228-5556, abizbybre@gmail.com

Bernalillo County - 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, 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.

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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