191: New Mental Health Commission

Lynn Gallagher, former New Mexico State Health Director, explains how a new commission created by the New Mexico Supreme Court will work to address the mental health needs of people who are in and out of the court system; Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive...


Lynn Gallagher, former New Mexico State Health Director, explains how a new commission created by the New Mexico Supreme Court will work to address the mental health needs of people who are in and out of the court system; Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, shares how her young son confirmed the value of a state campaign to help connect parents and their kids; and ASTHO has extended the deadline to sign up for its Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health program.

New Mexico Order Establishing Commission on Mental Health and Competency

Webpage: Colorado’s Forward Together Campaign

Webpage: Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday, June 2nd, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

A new commission created by the New Mexico Supreme Court will work to address the mental health needs of people who are in and out of the court system.

Lynn Gallagher is New Mexico's former state health official. She says the 17-person panel aims to help people before they end up in prison.

LYNN GALLAGHER:

There were some inefficiencies in the way that competency proceedings were occurring in the state. And back in 2019, the court took a look at that and they changed some of the criteria—they created some factors that would be considered for competency proceedings.

And with that came this understanding that, you know, we really need to take a look at the people that are coming through the criminal justice system and determine what can we do better to foster a collaborative response and help deal with these folks who are coming to us with mental health issues through the court system.

JOHNSON:

Gallagher says the commission has a simple charter.

GALLAGHER:

The goal and the objective is really to promote fair treatment among effected individuals, to provide public safety in other communities who have impacts on these effected individuals with enhanced training, and then to create connections among other stakeholders in a cross-system partnership that will look at intersections of behavioral health and criminal justice.

JOHNSON:

A commission is one response to the problem. But Gallagher says if that's too much, then jurisdictions can take a simpler approach.

GALLAGHER:

I would say, as collaborations matter, the way that we think about improving health outcomes has to—and it absolutely does—include mental health issues. And persons impacted by mental health issues absolutely deserve common sense solutions prior to incarceration in a non-adversarial fashion.

And so, if your state is not looking and working with administrative offices of the courts, with the judiciary, with other criminal justice professionals, law enforcement agencies, your local EMS and crisis intervention teams—if you're not meeting them where they are and creating common sense, common language approaches to solving this problem, then each area is trying to solve the same problem.

One of the things I like to always say is that we tend to be experts at the problem, and this commission's focus would becoming experts at the solution and linking people together. So, collaboration, partnering, and looking at it from the lens of the persons impacted by these issues.

JOHNSON:

Read the court order creating the commission using the link in the show notes.

 

Colorado's Forward Together campaign, connecting parents and young people on topics like substance abuse and mental health, is another way public health agencies are helping communities cope.

Jill Hunsaker Ryan is executive director of the state's department of public health and environment.

JILL HUNSAKER RYAN:

So, my ten-year-old son, he's always telling me that I work too much.

And he wrote me this great Mother's Day note, and it was the Greatest Mom in the World award. And he actually talked about a lot of things having to do with this campaign. He's like, "Mom, you always want to listen to my music. You go to the restaurants I want to go to, even though you don't want to go there." And then he said, "And you know, Mom, when you come sit with me when I'm watching TV and you're answering your email, it still means a lot to me to have you sit next to me."

So, it just goes to show how it's like the little things and kids notice. Even if they don't tell you, they notice.

JOHNSON:

There's a link to the campaign website in the show notes.

 

Finally this morning, ASTHO has extended the deadline to sign up for its Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health program. Candidates can apply until June 3rd at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

The program provides diverse public health professionals the chance to learn leadership skills and make new connections on their journey to grow their influence in the profession. You can get more information and apply using the link in the show notes.

 

That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Jill Hunsaker Ryan MPH

Executive Director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

K. Lynn Gallagher JD

Director, Quality of Life Department, City of Las Cruces