An advocate for behavioral health in Albuquerque asked the Legislative Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee for $1 billion to build a “world class” behavioral health and substance abuse treatment center in New Mexico.
Connie Elizabeth Vigil, behavioral health master plan coordinator for the Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Committee and president of the Greater Albuquerque Business Alliance, said the money could be placed into an escrow account and be earmarked for the Human Services Department. She said the money is needed because there is no long-term mental health facility in the state, and that there should be five major centers in different cities around the state.
Eric Olivas, a Bernalillo County commissioner, told the committee that Bernalillo County’s largest expense is the Metropolitan Detention Center. He said 51 percent of individuals booked into the facility report some form of substance abuse and require detox.
“We can start treatment in that facility and do our best to do that but they have to go somewhere. We can’t incarcerate our way out of this problem,” Olivas said.
Olivas said he is asking the committee for 200 units of supported housing in Albuquerque and the building and operation of a state hospital dedicated to long-term residential treatment with a portion preserved for court-ordered treatment.
Olivas said state-level investment is needed.
“We know individuals come from around the state that come to Albuquerque for help. We need your help. I implore you to take up this cause in this session. We desperately need your help,” Olivas said.
Vigil said that Las Cruces lacks a state-run treatment facility, as do Gallup, Taos and Española. She said the facility in Roswell needs to be bigger and the state-run psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas needs an upgrade. She said the state Medicaid cap of 28 days for treatment “is part of the problem.”
She said Clovis received $10 million in the last legislative session to open a treatment facility but, she said, “$10 million will not go very far.”