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City Conducts Mental Health Summit

More than 150 public safety officials, service providers, advocates and consumers participated in a mental health summit.

Albuquerque-More than 150 public safety officials, service providers, advocates and consumers participated in a mental health summit Thursday designed to come up with solutions for families and people who live with mental illness.

Afterwards, those who attended the eight-hour summit at the Albuquerque Convention Center came up with several key recommendations that will be sent to Mayor Richard J. Berry and civic leaders. Some of those recommendations that will be considered include:

•    Distribute resource information at bus stops.
•    Create a specialized Certified Peer Support worker training program focused on issues related to courts, corrections, and juvenile justice. These Peer Support Workers would be assigned at the time of arrest to identify the needs of the consumer and then work with the courts and corrections.
•    Ensure continued Crisis Intervention Team representation on behavioral health initiatives.
•    Create Pre-trial services for competency cases.
•    Create a task force of agencies, community, people with mental illness to continue mental health summit momentum and communication.
•    Create a community awareness campaign.
•    Identify one government agency to develop and host a website that serves as a central data repository of resources.
•    Develop support services with centralized and mobile units
•    Create a “311” line for Mental Health crisis.

"This summit was an opportunity to begin a new level of dialogue and a new level of collaboration in approaching this vital issue," Mayor Berry said. "I have a lot of optimism that the momentum we built today will help improve the quality of life for those who suffer from mental illness."

The summit featured a who’s who of the mental health community. It included representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, the Albuquerque police and fire departments, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, the ACLU, the judicial system and countless service providers and consumers.  The summit was sponsored by the City, the Sheriff’s Department, Behavioral Health Collaborative 2 and the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Albuquerque.

During the summit the attendees participated in five breakout sessions in which they brainstormed about solutions. The breakout sessions addressed the following questions:
•    How can the whole community use its range of resources to help all consumers move into recovery?
•    How can the community better educate families and consumers about their range of options within the legal process?
•    How to increase the likelihood of a positive encounter between police and someone living with mental illness?
•    How can the behavioral health system and law enforcement work together to enhance positive outcomes
•    How can we better sever people who may be deemed incompetent to stand trial.