It takes a very special and diverse village to feed our youth – especially after our COVID year. As students return to teaching on-site, Taos Behavioral Health (TBH) is deeply grateful for the relationships with our education systems and communities (Taos, Questa and Peñasco).
Recognize Behavioral Health Needs
TBH has worked continuously throughout the pandemic to provide behavioral health services to adults, families and youth. Our work would not have been possible without the courage, commitment and creativity of our staff and our community partners. We used technology to provide safe services via social media to those who wanted these role models, and we followed the public health protocols required to meet young people in small, stable pods in our rented space at Christian Academy.
When we met with young clients, school districts made communication and referrals easy. School staff identified students who were “missing in action” and worked together to raise awareness. A big lesson of the year came from the recognition that there are critical unmet behavioral health needs in our communities.
As the school year begins, TBH is grateful for the protected spaces on campus provided to continue ongoing services for existing young clients.
In addition, districts plan with TBH to offer more general support to all staff and students through a new ‘tiered’ service model that combines staff training, classroom presentations and brief service sessions. follow-up for specific problems identified. To implement this model, dedicated commitments are needed from school administrators, staff and community members.
In Taos School District, Superintendent Lillian Torres and Deputy Superintendent Valerie Trujillo welcomed the proposed model and worked with TBH to develop a memorandum of understanding, signed a week ago. In Peñasco, Superintendent Melissa Sandoval invited TBH to make a presentation at the August school board meeting, where all members encouraged the development of a memorandum of understanding. In Questa, TBH is working closely with Mayor Mark Gallegos who arranged for a trailer located near the proposed center to be designated for TBH services. TBH would like to express its deep appreciation for the recognition by these officials of critical behavioral health needs and the vision to provide leadership for new services.
Specific details of services
Current young clients will receive designated continuing service spaces at participating schools. School board members, administrators and teachers will be offered new training on the principles of the tiered approach, which will be presented in classrooms and include ongoing support services to improve health and safety. in the district.
Teachers who wish to participate will be served by a TBH Family Navigator, who will present four classroom sessions and offer two to four weeks of support from a TBH community support worker to a student, family or staff member who wishes. this follow-up. . It is important to stress that this is a voluntary and tactful option and that behavioral health services will be offered if necessary.
This intervention will be culturally competent and reflect our understanding that the COVID pandemic has seriously challenged the mental and emotional health of families. The community has experienced housing crises, economic stress, trauma, grief and loss, and behavioral health crises.
The path to healing must be responsive, informed, culturally sensitive and supportive of individual choices. We have all had a year that has tested our ability to manage our lives. TBH wishes to build on the collaborations in place to address social and emotional health and preserve the strengths of our communities.
TBH has the largest licensed and accredited behavioral health staff in northern New Mexico, and can be contacted at taosbehavioralhealth.org, 575-578-4297 or 105 Bertha Street in Taos.