Health And Public Safety

Four New Peer Support Drop-In Centers to Launch in Bernalillo County


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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