Behavioral Health

Greg Sorber / Associated Press

In the days after James Boyd was killed by police in Albuquerque, questions arose about whether officers specially trained to talk to people who are mentally ill had been sent to the scene. And it turned out, that an officer known for deescalating situations like the one was sent to the foothills that day in 2014. 

amayaeguizabal via Pixabay / creative commons license

The Santa Fe County Commission will be asking voters if they would support a tax increase to pay for behavioral health services. Commissioners voted to include the question on the November ballot Tuesday night.

amayaeguizabal via Pixabay / creative commons license

Bernalillo County and the city of Albuquerque are holding a training session Saturday, June 4, on how to interact with people who have mental health conditions. The certification program is a first for the city.

Arpingstone via Flickr / public domain

Governor Susana Martinez and her administration haven’t had a lot to say after the state attorney general cleared the last 2 of 15 behavioral health organizations that were accused of fraud in 2013. Their Medicaid funding was frozen and many of them have shut down.

A statement from the Human Services Department spokesman echoed what the Governor said this week - that Medicaid dollars should be used to help the people who need it most and that the attorney general is turning a blind eye to wealthy CEO's who squandered funds on private planes.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Ads raising awareness about the overdose-reversing drug naloxone will be appearing on the sides of buses around Albuquerque. It’s available over-the-counter now—but only at pharmacies willing to carry the medication.

Ed Williams


For many people who are homeless or who have behavioral health issues, the right medical care is too far out of reach. Often folks turn to emergency services for basic healthcare—which can be both expensive and ineffective.

Santa Fe is just one of a dozen cities across the U.S. to try out a new program that brings meaningful help to people who frequently call 911.

Zack McCarthy via CC

Behavioral health funding in New Mexico took about a $4 million hit at the end of last week’s legislative session. But the Human Services Department may have asked for even less money than that.

Diliff via Wikipedia / creative commons license

New Mexico’s Democratic congressional delegation is calling for a federal investigation into the shakeup of the state’s behavioral health system.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

More than 20 organizations joined together Tuesday to call on lawmakers not to cut funding for behavioral health services. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In the final days of the 2016 session, lawmakers are trying to figure out how to deal with a tight budget caused by plummeting oil and gas prices. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 2/18 8a: 


The state’s attorney general cleared just about all of the providers accused of Medicaid fraud a couple of years ago—but the news didn’t come soon enough to keep many of their doors open.


Presbyterian Medical Services was cleared of fraud allegations by the Attorney General’s Office on Monday. The nonprofit won’t be getting a refund on millions it paid to stay open after the state made those accusations in 2013.

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Ten behavioral health agencies were cleared of fraud on Monday, Feb. 8, by the New Mexico attorney general. The AG’s Office found no deliberate pattern of abuse.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The state Legislature is working up a budget, and one proposal on the table would cut more than $8 million from behavioral health services. Residents who’ve been deeply affected by drug use in their communities called on lawmakers Saturday, Jan. 30, not to cut the funding that combats it.

Flickr via CC

The James Boyd killing two years ago spurred voters to increase taxes and spend additional millions every year on behavioral health in Bernalillo County. Now, there's a new roadmap for those funds.

Best Of GJ 2015: Justice Campaigns

Jan 4, 2016
Generation Justice /

Sun. 1/3 7p: We share Part 2 of our 2015 Best of Generation Justice Series with you. We look back at the media justice victories of 2015 – including the FCC’s vote for both net neutrality and prison phone justice. Also, we celebrate how local campaigns and organizing can create change – from protecting ethnic studies curriculum, addressing institutional racism, breaking the silence about NM’s behavioral health crisis, and speaking out about the injustices we see.  

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

We’ve all heard of suicide-prevention hotlines, and numbers folks can dial in an emergency. But what about a not-so-hotline for people looking to stave off a crisis before it happens? 

Sheila Stephenson

Mental health care and substance abuse treatment here has been in flux since Medicaid payments to providers were frozen in 2013. And two counselors are striking out on their own in a rural part of the state.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Just about every woman who finds herself behind bars in New Mexico will get out eventually. The question is, will she be able to restart her life, rejoin her family? There aren’t enough services in this state for all the women who want to break the cycles that landed them in jail or prison. / Creative Commons License

A Las Cruces behavioral health provider will take over clients of La Frontera, an Arizona firm that is shutting down its New Mexico offices.

Matt Kennicott from the state Human Services Department says many staff members from La Frontera are applying to work at La Clinica de Familia and that that will make the transition go smoothly.

"People who are seeing their current providers will continue seeing their providers even after the switching of companies is made," Kennicott said.

Jean-Rémy Duboc via CC

  LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Another Arizona-based nonprofit has confirmed it plans to cease providing Medicaid-funded mental health services in southern New Mexico.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Tucson-based La Frontera plans a staggered transition to phase out its operations in Doña Ana County and several counties in southwestern New Mexico.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

An Arizona nonprofit that came to New Mexico after the 2013 behavioral health shakeup called it quits on March 31 after less than two years. 

Turquoise Health and Wellness was the main provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment to several cities in Southeast New Mexico. Not anymore. Human Services Department spokesperson Matt Kennicott said since the company gave its 90-day closure notice, the state has been working with communities to find replacements.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

After less than two years serving southeastern New Mexico, a behavioral health provider will shutter its programs on March 31, leaving hundreds without services.

What does this mean for Roswell and its courts, which were ordering offenders into treatment there?

Judge Freddie Romero presides over the drug court for juveniles in Chaves County. It’s not what you might imagine. The judge is warm and friendly. The kids who approach the podium with their parents in tow are everyday teenagers—jeans, T shirts, the occasional piercing.

Public Health In The 2015 Session

Mar 24, 2015
Arianna Sena

Psychiatric Meds In School—PASSED

Courtesy of Paul Ielacqua

KUNM's Public Health New Mexico reporting project has been investigating Albuquerque Police Department shooting deaths with an eye on behavioral health issues. This week, we’re looking at officer mental health.

Paul Ielacqua was an APD Aviation officer from 2001 to 2008 but has worked in law enforcement—at the Bernalillo County jail and Conchas Lake—since 1996. He talked to KUNM about how police handle their own mental wellness in high-stress situations.

Allan Ajifo, CC 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Another Arizona-based behavioral health provider is planning to shut down operations in New Mexico. La Frontera is one of five nonprofits that took over for local providers accused of fraud. Turquoise Health and Wellness announced earlier this year they would close their New Mexico offices on April 1st.

Substance abuse treatment is not available for everyone who needs it in New Mexico, and this shortage is at the root of some tragic altercations with police.

Mike Gomez met me in a park in Albuquerque, holding a framed photo of his son Alan. “He was a good kid, a normal kid,” he said. “He graduated high school on time. He was a Little League All-Star.”

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s his first month as attorney general and on Thursday, Jan. 29, Hector Balderas released the more than 300-page PCG audit that caused 15 behavioral health service providers to have their funding suspended. 

Since 2013, behavioral health providers in New Mexico have waited to see the details of accusations of Medicaid fraud leveled against them. 

  Attorney General Hector Balderas released a 339-page audit by Public Consulting Group that caused the suspension of funding for 15 behavioral health providers in New Mexico.

Read the released audit here.

Arizona firms were hired to provide behavioral health services, and local providers have said they were unable to see or refute the specific fraud allegations against them. 

Chris Blakeley via Flickr / Creative Commons license

Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh reached into his shoulder bag and pulled out a four-page brochure Monday at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

The pamphlet the former Republican state lawmaker held begins with this statement in bold lettering: “The behavioral health system in Chaves County is in crisis.”

The brochure is the product of an ad hoc committee formed by a state court district judge in Roswell, Kintigh says. The pamphlet goes on to warn of the consequences when a community has too few services for the mentally ill and other vulnerable populations.