CARA-ISR Provides Research Assistance to the Behavioral Health Initiative

January 1, 2017 - Miriam Verploegh

The Center for Applied Research and Analysis (CARA) with the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of New Mexico was selected to provide training, technical assistance, and evaluations of each project within the Behavioral Health Initiative. CARA-ISR provides the technical, methodological, and evaluative experience needed to guide and advise the BHI in a way that strengthens the link between research and the application of behavioral health community programming.

Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico have committed themselves to improving residents' lives and the public's safety by strategically evaluating and enhancing resources for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

They have recognized that their behavioral health care system is fragmented, difficult to navigate and lacking a full complement of care options, at times leading to no or insufficient treatment, and taken action to build a better safety net and more effectively deploy community resources.

Officials and community members have taken important steps to address this situation, including voter approval of a gross-receipts tax in part to generate funding for care. This has led to creation of a business plan for a comprehensive system and continuum of complementary behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) care, with oversight that coordinates services and funding streams. The county also has taken the lead to initiate collaboration with the adjoining counties, including establishing a monthly forum to discuss these efforts and agree upon actions, as well as moving forward with many of the initial steps to foster sharing of information, contracting services and strategies among service providers to improve communication and coordination throughout the community. The county has also established specific goals for implementing the Behavioral Health Initiative that are further described in this plan.