April 22, 2020

NM Delegation Hails $2 Million Grant to Bolster New Mexico State Behavioral Health Services

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) andXochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced a $2 million grant for the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) to fund behavioral health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that passed Congress last month.  

The $2 million grant to HSD will support the state’s programs to treat individuals with mental health and substance abuse disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency served over 149,000 New Mexicans in 2018 with federal funds.

“The health and safety of all New Mexicans is my top priority in Congress—and while our nation is focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19, we must ensure that we continue to care for the whole health of New Mexico communities during this critical and unprecedented period,” said Udall. “The New Mexico Human Services Department provides essential treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues, and does incredible work for our communities. I will continue to fight for New Mexicans in subsequent coronavirus funding packages to increase support for critical services like those provided by the Human Services Department that are vital to the health and well-being of our families and communities.”

"We can't allow this pandemic to create any lapses in behavior health care for New Mexicans who need it,” said Heinrich. “Our state has long faced challenges providing adequate behavioral health resources. That has only been exacerbated during this crisis by unprecedented economic upheaval, social isolation, and proximity to potential abusers. I will continue doing everything in my power to fight for the resources New Mexicans need to stay safe and healthy throughout this public health crisis and when it's over."

“This is an especially difficult time for individuals struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. This $2 million grant will support the New Mexico Human Services Department’s efforts to provide critical behavioral health services for New Mexicans,” said Luján. “I am committed to continuing work to bolster these lifesaving services and to doing everything I can to help ensure the health and safety of all New Mexicans.” 

“Mental health is a struggle our communities face every day, but during this challenging time, increased stress puts a strain on our family members and providers. As someone who has struggled with my behavioral health, I know that this increased funding in the CARES Act will ensure our families can continue their recovery and behavioral health treatment so they can stay healthy during this pandemic,” said Haaland. “I also want to remind everyone that it's okay to feel overwhelmed at times. Between the very real threat that this virus poses to people we know and care about to the financial uncertainty millions of people are facing, there is no shame in admitting you need help or taking a day focusing on your own mental health.” 

“As we confront COVID-19, providers across New Mexico have not stopped working to address mental health and substance abuse. We’re facing unprecedented times and I’m pleased to share relief secured through the CARES Act is on its way to behavioral health programs in communities across New Mexico. This funding takes an important step towards increasing access during this uncertain time and I will continue to advocate for key healthcare programs in the next relief package,” said Torres Small.

The significant public health toll of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the significant disruptions to daily life and financial security are likely to increase stress, anxiety and strong emotions. To learn more about the varying effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and strategies to care for individuals and communities, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website here.

To increase access to mental and behavioral health resources and support services, the state of New Mexico has launched NMConnect, a new phone app that provides free 24-hour crisis and non-crisis support and access to behavioral health professionals who can text or talk via phone with individuals needing a listening ear or referrals to longer-term support. The app links users to the New Mexico Crisis Access Line (NMCAL), which provides safety net services statewide. NMCAL is still available via phone 24/7 toll-free by calling 1-855-NMCRISIS (1-855-662-7474). More information on the app can be found here.