May is Mental Health Month
Wellness is Building Well Communities in Every Part of New Mexico
Even though May is officially Mental Health Awareness Month, there is no separation between physical health and mental wellness. The Dose of Wellness campaign was created by the New Mexico Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) to erase the misconception that mental health is a separate issue from a person’s physical wellbeing. The campaign is just one piece of an inter-departmental collaboration between state agencies to end the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.
Help is Only a Few Clicks Away
So far this month, this collaborative effort has illuminated the struggles faced by children and youth, elders, and mothers. In this final week of May we spotlight our communities in every corner of New Mexico, including rural outposts, pueblo communities, border towns, and sovereign nations. Through careful planning and vital partnerships, BHSD has expanded critical access to care for every individual in New Mexico—regardless of their location. People seeking behavioral health care services for themselves or loved ones can now visit www.treatmentconnection.com, and enter their zip codes and the substance they are seeking help with. Treatment options include a wide array from telehealth appointments to recovery housing.
The critical improvement this service makes is that New Mexicans no longer need a referral from providers to seek the help they need. It is also unique in that BHSD honors the sovereignty of the providers within this partnership, providing technical assistance and protecting traditional and culturally relevant healing mechanisms. This ensures that every New Mexican can access care that best honors their personal values, at the exact time that they are spurred to take action.
Mobile Assistance Units Help More New Mexicans
The New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD) is rolling out three mobile crisis units that are designed to bring assistance to remote, frontier, and indigenous communities. Pilot projects for more are underway in the southern part of the state. These mobile units will ensure that respite services are available and accessible to more New Mexicans. This expansion represents a broader goal of BHSD to increase access and care for every person in the state across their entire lifespan.
Our Communities Cannot Thrive Until We Are Well
Over the past year, displaced persons, youth and families, and Native American families who were precariously housed or homeless—due to implications of COVID-19 or otherwise—were placed in housing and cared for by BHSD. Each person or family was assigned a peer support worker whose role was to guide them through the challenges they were facing and ensure they received the care they needed. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) standards helped inform proper outcomes for Native American families, preserving core values and traditions.
These efforts to provide shelter, warmth, and food to New Mexicans in need were the product of collaboration. The Office of Peer Recovery and Engagement (OPRE) within BHSD, besides their daily work promoting peer engagement in the workforce, worked directly with tribes to distribute gift cards for groceries to tribal elders. The Department of Health’s Peer Hub was a vital resource in supporting peers in rural and tribal areas, and CYFD provided Family Peer Support and Youth Peer Support specialists.
In addition to pairing peer workers with disadvantaged individuals and families, BHSD partnered with other State agencies to deliver millions of pounds of food. It’s important to acknowledge that basic needs must be met before any other needs can be met. This is why physical and mental health are inextricable from one another. In this campaign to put food on the tables of every New Mexican who needed it, the Department of Health screened individuals requesting help with questions designed to trigger follow-ups (if necessary) from the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line (NMCAL). With this collaborative effort, more New Mexicans were met with the help and care they needed quickly and efficiently.
Pledge with Us
No community in New Mexico can be well until we all are well. In order to be well, we must recognize that mental health is just as critical as physical health. New Mexicans from every county are encouraged to take the #PathToWellness pledge at www.doseofwellness.com, and commit to being aware, being kind, being inclusive, and being healthy. Make the effort to embrace mental health conversations with your family, with your friends, and with your neighbors. Together, we can take a dose of wellness and build healthy, thriving communities.
123 people have taken the #PathToWellnessPledge
Through a series of promotions, Dose of Wellness will increase public awareness, provide helpful resources, and reduce the stigma, misconceptions and false information surrounding health issues. This campaign will help New Mexicans identify risky or dangerous behaviors using screening tools and entry points for additional resources.