Crimson Research, housed within the College of Health and Social Services at New Mexico State University, proposes a program to connect professional staff and family members/caregivers to mental health awareness training in Otero County, New Mexico. Specifically, professionals working with veterans, active military, youth, and the community at large will participate in at least one of three evidence-based mental health awareness programs.
Training participants will hail from Holloman Air Force Base, the Otero County Detention Center, the Alamogordo Police Department, and the Alamogordo Public Schools system. The three mental health trainings provided will be Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), Crisis Prevention Institute Non-Violent Crisis Intervention (CPI), and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Family-to-Family program (NAMI-FTF). The key element of the proposed program is that select employees from each agency will be sent out to become instructors in each training so that they can be in-house instructors at their agencies when they return. This ensures sustainability of the program, ease of scheduling, and self-reliance rather than depending on instructors from other counties as is often the case currently.
Veterans and youth comprise over a third of Otero County’s population and rates of mental illness are well above both the national average and the New Mexico average, particularly for suicide and attempted suicide. There is a paucity of mental health services in this rural, underserved area near the US-Mexico border, and very few mental health instructors (only one NAMI instructor, three MHFA instructors, and no CPI instructors permitted to train outside the hospital). The goals and objectives of the proposed program center around the installation of in-house mental health instructors at agencies that encounter high rates of mental health consumers, the training of professional staff at these agencies, and the training of family members/caregivers of individuals with mental illness so that these individuals can be best supported, connected to treatment, and prevented from entering the criminal justice system unnecessarily. The program will create 13 new mental health instructors and train an additional 195 professionals and family members for a total of 208 trained Otero County residents. These participants will be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness, de-escalate crisis situations, connect individuals to services, and be aware of relevant local resources.