Your (Unofficial) Guide to State-Sponsored Therapy in New Mexico
There’s a way to get affordable mental health care that you might not know about. That’s New Mexico’s mental health system.
If you qualify, you can get mental health care at a local publicly-funded program for a small co-pay or a low sliding-scale fee. But even if you don’t qualify for services at a state-funded provider, New Mexico’s system can still give you information, referrals to affordable providers, and other essential help for free.
If you’re in a hurry and want to get the most essential information about what’s available in the New Mexico mental health system and who it’s for, you can read our quick start guide below.
To learn more about the public mental health system in New Mexico, keep reading. We’ve done the research to uncover essential facts about who’s eligible, what services you can get, when to go, where to call, and how it works so you can decide if a publicly-funded provider might be right for you.
Who Is Eligible?
You should consider looking into the public mental health system in New Mexico if you (or a loved one) are in crisis, have a severe mental health condition, have Centennial Care, or have a limited income.
Everyone in New Mexico can use the state-funded mental health emergency response system. If you or someone you love is in crisis, you can call the New Mexico crisis line to get the help you need, quickly.
Use the State System When You're in Crisis
Public mental health services are usually the best option if you’re having a mental health crisis and need help right away.
State mental health programs are required to provide mental health crisis response services and are one of the fastest ways to get care when you’re having a mental health emergency.
The people who answer state crisis lines can provide caring attention and support as they help you determine the best response to a crisis, whether it’s inpatient treatment or an appointment with a counselor.
Even if you’re not in crisis, you can call the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line for information about affordable mental health services in your area.
When you call, you can find out whether you might qualify for state-funded mental health services or get free information about affordable local providers.
There are many options for affordable care. New Mexico’s mental health system is decentralized, so there are no statewide restrictions on who can use it. Instead, eligibility criteria vary from provider to provider.
What changes depending on your financial situation and diagnosis is whether you qualify for financial aid. You need to meet income eligibility criteria to qualify for Centennial Care, which all providers who participate in the public system accept.
However, you don’t need Centennial Care to go to most publicly-funded providers. Most providers in the public system also accept private insurance. If you don’t have insurance or would prefer to pay out of pocket, most also offer sliding-scale fees.
Who Is Eligible for Medicaid in New Mexico?
The primary point of access to the public mental health system in New Mexico is Centennial Care, New Mexico’s Medicaid program. To be eligible, you need to have an income that is 138 percent of the federal poverty level or less.
If you qualify, you can choose a Centennial Care plan from one of these three managed care organizations:
Once you have a plan, you can use the provider search feature on your plan’s page to find mental health providers who accept your insurance.
In many cases, going to a publicly-funded provider in New Mexico is the same as going to a provider that’s not part of the public system: you’ll either use your insurance or pay out of pocket. So, the best way to find affordable care is to look for providers who accept your insurance or offer good sliding-scale discounts.
Many publicly-funded mental health programs and integrated clinics in New Mexico provide group and individual therapy, psychiatric evaluation, medication management, and other basic outpatient mental health services. If you need specialty or intensive services like case management or day treatment, however, you’ll need to look for specialty providers who offer them.
Check Out the State System If You Need Specialized Services
The New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute, New Mexico’s only publicly-funded inpatient psychiatric hospital, also offers outpatient and community-based mental health services at four locations in the state:
- Las Vegas: (505) 454-5100
- Mora: (575) 387-2677
- Pecos: (505) 757-6112
- Santa Rosa: (575) 472-3068
These are the only outpatient mental health providers in New Mexico’s public mental health system that are run directly by the state behavioral health department.
They have stricter eligibility requirements than most other programs in the public network and focus on serving people with severe and chronic mental illness.
You should consider looking into one of these programs if you’re at risk of hospitalization, your mental health condition affects your functioning, or you are homeless because of a mental health condition.
They offer specialized and intensive services like psychosocial rehabilitation, wraparound care, and supported housing that are designed to help you address these challenges.
There are no local or regional information lines or walk-in centers that function as an access point to the public mental health system in New Mexico.
Instead, the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line is the best place to start if you’re looking for information about the mental health system (or mental health services in general) in New Mexico. It isn’t just a crisis line for anyone who needs immediate help. It’s also set up to be an information and referral line that can help you connect with affordable mental health resources where you live.
Where Do You Call to Get Started?
The people who answer are trained to help you figure out what kind of care you might need and where to go to get it. They can help you connect with local resources no matter where you live in New Mexico.
There are other hotlines that can help when you’re looking for information or support as well. Which one is best to call depends on what you need. You can find them listed in the information box below.
Important Numbers in New Mexico
The national mental health crisis hotline is 988.
The national (and statewide) crisis text line is 741741.
You can reach the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline by calling 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
You can reach the New Mexico National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Information Line by calling (505) 260-0154.
Public mental health services in New Mexico are managed on the state level by the Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) of the New Mexico Human Services Department. For general information about New Mexico’s mental health system, you can contact BHSD at (505) 476-9266.
However, you’ll probably get the best results by calling the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line. They are the statewide point of contact for mental health information and crisis support and can help you figure out the best place to go to get the care you need.
New Mexico Clinic List
We’ve listed numbers for providers who participate in the New Mexico state mental health network below.
We’ve limited our listings to large agencies and group practices that provide adult outpatient mental health services and that accept Centennial Care.
Contact Your Medicaid MCO for Updated Provider Lists
The main way that providers in New Mexico participate in the public system is by accepting Centennial Care. The best way to get updated information about providers that accept your insurance is to call your Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) or go to their website.
There are currently three Medicaid MCOs in New Mexico:
- Presbyterian Health Plan: (888) 977-2333
- Western Sky Community Care: (844) 543-8996
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico: (866) 689-1523
These MCOs are overseen by Centennial Care. You can start an application for Centennial Care by going to the YesNM Online Portal. You can reach Centennial Care to ask general questions about the state Medicaid system and the application process at 1-800-283-4465.
Because of the way New Mexico’s mental health system works, new providers can join the system at any time, while established public providers can stop participating by closing or by no longer accepting public funds.
We do our best to keep our list up-to-date, but there’s always a chance providers will close or opt out of the system before our next update. You can help us by letting us know if any of these providers have closed or no longer accept public insurance.
Most of these providers accept both public and private insurance and offer sliding-scale fees for people who don’t have insurance.
However, because providers can change their policies or level of participation in the public system, we can’t guarantee that every provider in this list will accept your insurance or offer a sliding scale.
We recommend calling the program you want to attend to confirm whether you’re eligible, what insurance plans they accept, and whether they offer any financial aid.
Also Consider: Federally Qualified Health Centers
Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are another great way to get affordable publicly-funded mental health services in New Mexico.
These federally-funded programs provide cutting-edge care in places where good primary healthcare was once hard to find. Most provide integrated care so you can get primary medical and mental health services at the same location. Each FQHC accepts Medicaid and Medicare and offers low sliding-scale fees if you don’t have insurance.
You can search for FQHCs near you by using the online search tool on the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration website.
The state mental health system is complicated and can be confusing to navigate. If you’re having any issues, we’re here to help. Here are some of our solutions to common problems you might experience.
If you’ve run into a problem that we haven’t addressed, don’t give up. Call someone at the program (or the access line) and tell them what’s going on.
You’re much more likely to get the help you need when you advocate for yourself and are persistent. Tell the person you talk to what you need or what problem you’re having.
If they don’t help the first time, call them back and tell them. If you keep calling and keep calm and focused, you should eventually get through to someone who can help you.
Deep Dive: How Does the System Work?
To understand New Mexico’s mental health system, it helps to understand how it started and how it’s changed since then.
Public mental health services have been around for a surprisingly long time. But for over a hundred years in America, the only way to get them was in a psychiatric hospital.
For More Information
To learn more about what the public mental health system was like in the early days—and how psychiatric inpatient care has evolved since then—you can read our article “Do Insane Asylums Still Exist? The Surprising Past and Present.”
To learn more about what inpatient mental health treatment is like now, and the differences between how it works in general hospitals and specialized psychiatric facilities, you can read our article “How Inpatient Mental Health Treatment Works.”
In the 1960s, Americans started thinking differently about mental health care. Conditions in psychiatric hospitals were getting worse and new medications made it possible to provide mental health treatment on an outpatient basis.
In response, new laws were passed that required state and local governments to establish community mental health programs as alternatives to institutionalization for people with serious mental illness. The most important was the Community Mental Health Act, which President John F. Kennedy signed into law in 1963.
The New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute
The New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute is New Mexico’s only state-run psychiatric hospital and the oldest part of its mental health system. It was originally opened as the “Territorial Asylum for the Insane” in 1889, before New Mexico was even a state.
It has gone through many name changes and updates since then, but it still runs as a functioning inpatient psychiatric facility in Las Vegas, New Mexico. It accepts patients from all over the state. It runs several affiliated programs and facilities as well, including forensic, adolescent, long-term, and community-based mental health programs.
Its community-based mental health programs are the only state-run outpatient mental health programs in New Mexico. They offer specialty and intensive services that can be hard to find in private programs. They are designed to help people with severe mental health conditions receive the support they need outside of the hospital and in the community.
New Mexico founded some of its first community mental health programs in the 1960s. However, it did not establish a statewide mental health department or network until much later.
In the 1990s, New Mexico converted its mental health system into a regional system administered by three Medicaid managed care companies. It has restructured its system many times since.
Since then, New Mexico has returned to its original approach and its system is now primarily administered by the three managed care companies that make up its Centennial Care program.
Rebuilding New Mexico's Mental Health System
The New Mexico mental health system is still recovering from a significant shakeup that happened in 2013.
Citing “credible allegations of fraud,” the governor’s office froze Medicaid funding to 15 of the largest community-based mental health programs in New Mexico’s public network.
Though the attorney general later cleared the programs of fraud, the damage was done, and most of New Mexico’s established non-profit mental health providers had to close their doors and go out of business.
Since then, new laws have been established to protect the public mental health system. With these protections in place and with all lawsuits filed in response to the shutdown now settled, New Mexico is currently in the process of rebuilding its mental health network.
The New Mexico government continues to work on improving the public mental health system. The Behavioral Health Services Division and the Behavioral Health Collaborative, which manage the system on the state level, are actively recruiting new providers and expanding what services are available.
In the meantime, gaps are being filled by smaller non-profits, federally qualified health centers, and other integrated health clinics. If you’re having trouble finding accessible mental health care, these programs can be a great resource.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only 47 percent of people in New Mexico who have mental health conditions get treatment for them.
You can make a difference by reaching out and connecting with local mental health resources to get the care you need. If you’re not sure whether the New Mexico public mental health system is for you, call the the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line or apply for Centennial Care. You may find out you can get mental health services through a publicly-funded program or another affordable option nearby.
The most important thing is to get started—the help you need may be only a call or click away.