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New Mexico county gets grant for mental health pilot program

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Southern New Mexico’s Dona Ana County has been awarded a nearly $3 million grant to improve mental health services.

Officials with Sen. Mary Kay Papen’s office says federal officials chose the county to be one of only five communities in the nation to implement the new outpatient treatment program.

The four-year grant is aimed at helping people with serious mental illness stick with treatment rather than cycle in and out of jails and hospitals.

The program is expected to start in mid-2017. It’ll focus on people who have been hospitalized two or more times, or have repeated interaction with the courts as a result of a mental illness.

The program is expected to serve 30 to 40 people a year.

Papen says the grant wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of advocates in New Mexico and Washington, D.C.