Las Cruces, New Mexico Therapists
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An Overview of Mental Health in Las Cruces, New Mexico
There are many unique challenges to finding mental health care in Las Cruces. New Mexico has been a leader in suicide, mental illness, and substance abuse rates for almost 30 years. It also ranks first for the number of children under the age of 18 who live in poverty, at 30 percent as of 2015. In the 2010s, changing laws caused setbacks statewide and in Doña Ana County. The area is still struggling to provide adequate numbers of mental health professionals.
Rates of substance abuse are also high throughout the state. New Mexico has had some success at curbing rates of alcohol-related deaths. The state has passed laws making it harder to access liquor, especially in high-risk areas. But there are still high rates of substance-related emergency room visits and deaths. One of six deaths in the state is related in some capacity to alcohol. This might be either due to alcohol poisoning or diseases. Between 2004 and 2009, there was a 98.4 percent rise in emergency room visits due to prescription drugs.
The statewide rate of depression is 9.8 percent. This is higher than the national average of 6.7 percent. In 2016, the rate of people who reported experiencing mental distress was 18.6 percent. Mental distress is defined as six or more days of bad mental health in a 30-day period. Depression rates are also high among teenagers. More than 32 percent report they have regular feelings of sadness or despair.
Effects of Poverty, Substance Abuse, and Other Factors
New Mexico has seen a dramatic increase in substance abuse, especially prescription drugs. The drug overdose rate has risen more than threefold since 1990.
About 130,000 people report abusing alcohol, but less than 10 percent seek treatment. This is often because they lack health care coverage. Since 2000, New Mexico has consistently led the nation in alcohol-related deaths. This rate is frequently up to twice the national average and rose 52 percent between 1990 and 2015.
Tobacco usage is also high in New Mexico. One in six adults and one out of nine teenagers use tobacco in some form. Roughly 2,800 residents die each year from tobacco-related diseases. This, like drug and alcohol abuse, is significant in forming a picture of a community’s mental health needs. Any type of substance addiction is often related to mental illness. This is a self-feeding cycle. Those who are mentally ill often self-medicate with substances. Those who abuse substances often develop mental illnesses as a result.
The poverty rate in New Mexico is also significant. In 2016, it was roughly 14 percent of the population. In Las Cruces, the rate is almost 25 percent. Those who live in poverty are likely to have mental conditions like anxiety and depression. They are also unlikely to seek treatment because they lack money or health insurance.
Mental Health Care Resources in Las Cruces
New Mexico has made an effort in recent years to fix its mental health care crisis, but the movement is still young. The Department of Health has started suicide prevention programs for school-age children. There are also efforts to encourage regular mental health care screenings among residents.
The state’s struggle with mental health has been ongoing for several decades. In the 2010s, however, significant restructuring brought up new challenges. In 2013, the state government stopped Medicaid payments to 15 mental health care facilities. Four of these were in Doña Ana County. Payments started back up in 2015 and 2016. But the infrastructure has still struggled with the restructuring. There is a shortage of health care professionals and lingering confusion from reorganization.
For now, La Clinica de Familia has overtaken local health care resources. Las Cruces’ Memorial Medical Center offers a psychiatric unit with 12 inpatient beds. Many social services have also increased their presence in the region.