BernCo has done a lot with BHT

BernCo has done a lot with BHT

Re: “2015 behavioral health tax benefits that have not yet been realized”

The benefits of the BHT are already being realized in several important and beneficial ways.

Behavioral health problems and crises have hit a record high, not just in New Mexico, but nationally, over the past three years. This is a major concern for everyone. Many people reading this may have a family member or know someone who has mental health issues. As caring citizens of our county and volunteer members of the BHI Crisis Subcommittee, we welcome the opportunity to share the facts and invite the community to participate.

Sales tax 1/8 of 1% costs each of us about $15 a year. After this measure was approved, four sub-committees were formed to oversee and direct the use of this money and ensure that it was spent wisely. Community volunteers were selected to serve on either crisis, housing or community support subcommittees, or prevention, intervention and harm reduction subcommittees. Steady progress is being made to address these concerns in ways designed to be incremental, systematic and sustainable. Oftentimes, BHI’s funding is leveraged across jurisdictions and includes multiple partnerships with mental health and community support organizations.

The Crisis Subcommittee decided that the long-term goal is to build a Behavioral Health Crisis Center at the University Hospital to provide much-needed services to those who need them most. First, however, it was important to build the infrastructure to support behavioral health concerns and needs at the community level. It was necessary to allocate funds every year to build the center. The cornerstone will be laid next month after years of savings, planning and preparation.

To provide some infrastructure, our committee helped fund six Mobile Crisis Teams (MCTs) in our county. Each team consists of a highly trained police officer paired with a master’s-level physician to answer 911 calls that include behavioral health issues. MCTs have saved the lives of many people with mental illness and have supported their families and loved ones. Teams can provide resources and emergency transportation, if needed. An additional team, with County Fire and Rescue, has an EMT paired with a physician for those with medical problems.

Our committee has also worked on the following:

• A CARE unit in Zuni SE that provides detox and substance abuse treatment and crisis stabilization services.

• The Re-entry Center, which provides support, referrals, and services to help start a new life for those who leave the Capital Detention Center.

We, as a committee, are particularly excited and proud that the Behavioral Health Center, located in the University of New Mexico Hospital Complex, will soon become a reality. This is another project supported by funds provided by the Behavioral Health Tax.

Each of these funded projects and services have already helped our community deal with serious long-term behavioral health concerns. Each of the other three subcommittees initiated additional proposals that fund other important projects and services in our community.

To summarize, when someone tells you that the benefits of the BHT have not yet been realized, you can tell them about the behavioral health crisis center, mobile crisis teams, care unit and readmission center, among the proactive and financially sound approaches to improving mental health and community support resources. This is a good return on an investment of $15. These proposals came from the Crisis Subcommittee only. We recognize that there are still many issues related to mental health and well-being. As we emerge from the pandemic, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our teamwork.

You see, our county benefits from the services of this BHI company. We owe our appreciation and gratitude to BHI employees for their work in funding and overseeing these programs.

In conclusion, we recognize that much work needs to be done to address behavioral health and related concerns in our communities. Our demand is the magazine and our communities help us be more proactive even when we’re not in complete agreement about the best way forward.

#BernCo #lot #BHT

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