The Reality of Mental Health, Poverty, and Medicade in the Land of Enchantment
New Mexico is one of the leading states for substance abuse and drug charges, which leads to the state having high overdose rates, suicide by drugs, and untreated mental illness. New Mexico’s depression and suicide rates are all above the national average.
Interactive map depicting suicides in NM comparing 2000 and 2015:
New Mexico’s poverty rate is one of the highest in the nation, at 19.7 % and that’s only counting the people technically under the poverty line, but it does not take into account the families and people scraping by to be just above that line, which many are excluded from many Medicaid (medical assistance provided by the state) services.
Chart showing poverty guildelines:
Chart showing maximum income Medicaid can support:
Along with this, there have also been many scandals regarding Medicaid, fifteen large mental health services have been charged with Medicaid fraud and illegal activity. Thirteen on these charges have been cleared, but by the time the clearing happened many of those businesses had failed. Because of this scandal, the state responded by putting stricter rules on Medicaid and where it was available to the public.
This has resulted in many practices being unable to accept Medicaid and unable to give people proper treatment. The once large leaders in mental health care are now not an option, leading to an in flood of local hospitals and small clinics.
Map of the ranking of mental health treatment to the general public:
New mexico is rated 22 out of 50 in access to mental health services.
There are a total of 124 beds for psychiatric care in New Mexico, which is roughly one-tenth of the number of people who need them. For the general public of New Mexico, there is a lack of services that they can get to help with mental health, and if they are available there are very limited options of treatment and care. Many private practices can only accept certain forms of Medicaid, if any, so most of the time patients are referred to the main hospitals including UNM Hospital, Lovelace, and Presbyterian, where doctors meet with an upward of 25 patients a day. The small clinics, while helpful and effective, are not options for the majority of the public.
How to help
While many of the issues presented are can only really be changed by government officials and representatives of the state, there are many ways we can encourage change. Get into contact with your local official and express your opinions on the situation in a respectful manner, while this may not seem like a lot, the fact that a citizen reached out to them about this problem will change their view on the issue in some capacity. Also look out for city meetings, and protests where you can voice your opinion and make sure that this issue is taken seriously. Raise general awareness within your family and friends and encourage them to do the same. Many of the small organizations helping with the mental health crisis are severely underfunded and donations are always accepted. You can mail a check, go to a local organization that supports them and donate there, or donate online. Besides donating there are always volunteering positions available, where you are able to get a good understanding of what the facility is lacking and areas of strength. If you are not able to volunteer, starting a school campaign and spreading the word are always an option and help inform people about the group and the importance that is has in our city.
Here’s a list of organizations to consider donating or volunteering at:
If you have any questions about these organizations, how you can help, or general information please email me at Baci210@aa.edu!