Help fund be­hav­ioral health treat­ment

Santa Fe New Mexican - - OPINIONS -

September is Re­cov­ery Month, and on Sept. 19, vot­ers in Santa Fe County, both in and out­side of the city lim­its, get to de­cide whether a small in­crease in gross re­ceipts taxes should pass to help fund the op­er­a­tions of a cri­sis triage cen­ter to serve the be­hav­ioral health needs of county res­i­dents.

A yes vote means in­creas­ing ac­cess to im­me­di­ate as­sess­ment of be­hav­ioral health crises. County con­sul­tants Pamela Hyde and as­so­ci­ates now are de­vel­op­ing plans for the op­er­a­tions in what would be a coun­ty­owned fa­cil­ity. This means that in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies can go to a central lo­ca­tion to get ur­gent help with men­tal health and sub­stance care. The triage na­ture means that in­di­vid­u­als will be sta­bi­lized and then re­ferred out for fur­ther treat­ment.

Pub­lic fund­ing means tax­payer money will be spent. This process re­quires that an open, trans­par­ent and com­mu­nity-based plan­ning ap­proach. That way, the pub­lic will help de­ter­mine what types of be­hav­ioral health ser­vices are most es­sen­tial to deal­ing with the ubiq­ui­tous prob­lems af­fect­ing our fam­i­lies.

If you have lost a loved one due to a be­hav­ioral con­di­tion, the few cents that we all would pay pales in com­par­i­son to the cost of los­ing a fam­ily mem­ber and loved ones, or the agony of not get­ting care and sup­port.

We hope that open pub­lic hear­ings are un­der­taken to in­volve fam­i­lies and con­sumers more ef­fec­tively so that cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate, qual­ity care is avail­able to stop the re­volv­ing door. Lo­cal prob­lems need lo­cal so­lu­tions, but the plan­ning process, which is funded by pub­lic money, re­quires com­plete dis­clo­sure, re­view, in­put and en­gage­ment so that we honor the in­put of our cit­i­zens and not limit and keep se­questered the process at the ex­pense of our fam­ily mem­bers strug­gling with th­ese dis­abling con­di­tions.

Fred San­doval is a res­i­dent of Co­chiti Lake. Miguel Chavez is a res­i­dent of Santa Fe.

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