A new agreement between Bernalillo County and the University of New Mexico to build a crisis triage center and psychiatric hospital on the UNM campus is welcome news – for voters who have spent the last 4½years paying tens of millions in additional gross receipts tax annually, and for every resident concerned about our many fellow residents struggling with mental illness and/or substance abuse.
UNM has committed to matching Bernalillo County’s initial $20 million investment, and a new agreement spells out a plan for the two to select a site on UNM campus by the end of April. The center is meant to help stabilize those in crisis who do not meet the criteria for psychiatric hospitalization and might otherwise end up in jail or an emergency room.
The agreement is an important step toward fulfilling a promise made when the County Commission approved a $20 million-a-year tax increase on goods and services for behavioral health programs in 2015. Part of the pitch was the money would go toward a crisis center to address a critical need in the Albuquerque metro. Some of the money has been used to backfill existing programs and start others. But with the kitty up to $70 million as of late 2019 and the agreement in place with UNM, it appears the facility is close to becoming reality. And that’s good news for all of Bernalillo County.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.