NMPolitics.net editor and publisher Heath Haussamen appeared on KRWG this week to discuss an ongoing journalistic collaboration to investigate southern New Mexico’s struggling behavioral health system.
“I think it’s pretty clear — we can see it on our streets, we see it in the headlines — that we have a problem in this community with the way that we are addressing this issue,” Haussamen told KRWG’s Anthony Moreno, one of five journalists working on the project. “And I think local policymakers have a bunch of ideas for what we need to do, but there hasn’t been the political will or the collaboration to make it happen.”
“So I think I’m really hoping we can put some of this together in a comprehensive way and look for solutions,” Haussamen said.
You can watch the 10-minute interview and learn more here:
In addition to Moreno, the journalists working on the project are Las Cruces Sun-News reporters Diana Alba Soular and Carlos Lopez and photographer/videographer Robin Zielinski. Haussamen is the project’s editor.
The journalists are working to illustrate the dangers when someone needing help with issues such as substance abuse, depression, or suicidal thoughts can’t obtain adequate treatment. State and local officials have struggled for years to address such needs in Southern New Mexico.
For example, the area is still struggling to recover from Gov. Susana Martinez’s 2013 Medicaid funding freeze that hampered longtime area nonprofits that were providing behavioral health services.
As another example, a crisis triage center sits built in Las Cruces but unused. And while many officials and activists agree that the state needs to build a second public mental health hospital in Las Cruces, there’s no agreement on how to fund it.
The news organizations will co-publish and broadcast their work later this year.