UNMH officials ask lawmakers for help funding outpatient programs for teens | KOB 4
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UNMH officials ask lawmakers for help funding outpatient programs for teens

Brittany Costello
Updated: February 12, 2020 06:12 AM
Created: February 11, 2020 10:16 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Staff with UNM Psychiatry and Behavioral Health are asking lawmakers for funding to help bridge a gap for treatment for young adults who suffer from substance abuse disorders and other behavioral health issues.

Dr. Mauricio Tohen, chair of UNM’s Department of Psychiatry, said drug use among teens in New Mexico has been on the rise.

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“The use of drugs among adolescents has increased nationwide and unfortunately it has increased to a higher degree in New Mexico than in the rest of the country,” Dr. Tohen said.

According to Tohen, there is a lack of services that are available to help rehabilitate those teens.

“Another major problem is that some of these patients, they need for instance, residential care. They’re sent out of state and that has two major issues: number one, they are not close to their families or communities and number two of course, it is costly,” he said.

House bill 338 is requesting $1.75 million to help bridge the gap from inpatient services to outpatient services focused on adolescents.

“That is a population in major need because we don’t have those services and of course we want to focus on our future,” Dr. Tohen said.

If the bill is passed, the money would provide a start for outpatient services that could come in the form of a residential treatment center or a facility where people can do for several hours a day.

“Unfortunately, mental illness is not cured, so it’s a chronic condition. So many patients will need these services for a long time or until we find a cure,” he said.

The House Health and Human Services Committee will review HB 338 on Wednesday.


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