Bernalillo County Voters Ask For More Mental Health Support

Nov 5, 2014

Credit Art by Nani Chacon courtesy of Young Women United

Bernalillo County voters overwhelmingly came out on Tuesday in favor of a tax increase to pay for more mental health services. 

Bernalillo County residents with addictions or mental health problems may be closer to having more access to treatment, now that voters here have showed their support for a one-eight percent tax increase to fund more behavioral health services.

That was good news for a group of around 15 women gathered to watch the election results Tuesday night at Maya’s Place, a transitional housing center for women dealing with mental illnesses or substance abuse issues.

Many of the women, who are in their 20s and 30s, said they were voting for the first time in their lives specifically because so many women like them don’t have access to mental health services. 

“It takes CYFD getting involved, it takes us going to jail, it takes us having to be homeless in order to qualify for any kind of care,” said Christina Dominguez, who was watching the vote count at Maya's Place.

A recent state legislative report backs up those concerns - it found 1 in 5 New Mexico residents suffer from mental illness. A federal review found fewer people here are receiving help for mental health needs.

The ballot measure is non-binding, so even though it passed there won’t be any changes, yet. Still, county officials say they’ll build off the public momentum to change the existing laws. One potential plan is to create a new behavioral health crisis center to serve patients who are otherwise taken to jail for treatment.

Editor's Note: The original version of this story mis-identified Cristina Dominguez. We regret the error. Questions/Comments? Please contact News Director Elaine Baumgartel