Law \ Legal

Youths Suffering Mental Health Issues Sent to Homeless Shelters

Despite settling a civil rights lawsuit two years ago and agreeing to place teens in foster homes or with relatives instead of emergency facilities such as youth shelters, New Mexico has yet to build an accessible, statewide, community-based behavioral health system and is, instead, placing youth, many suffering from mental illness and suicidal tendencies, in crisis shelters hundreds of times every year, reports Ed Williams for Searchlight New Mexico and ProPublica.

Shelter managers say they have seen more referrals for youth with severe behavioral problems since the Children, Youth and Families Department began closing residential treatment centers. More than a dozen behavioral health care providers have shut down after the state froze their funding in 2013, and now only three residential treatment centers with just 74 beds are left to house teens without histories of violence or sexual offenses. There have been at least 465 calls to 911 regarding physical violence, disorderly conduct and mental health crises at the nine facilities that house most foster teens in shelters since 2019.

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