FARMINGTON — Representatives of the New Mexico Department of Health found last week that behavioral health concerns among San Juan County residents mirror those of other state residents.

The department tallied local concerns during two meetings held May 7 and 8. The meetings are part of a series of gatherings about the 2008 New Mexico Comprehensive Strategic Health Plan the department is holding statewide. The four-year plan, which covers the entire state, is renewed every two years.

Department reps traveled to Portales and Las Vegas before coming to Farmington.

Epidemiologist David Quintana, who helped conduct the two meetings here, said residents' concerns centered around behavioral health, youth suicide and access to health care coverage.

"That was especially the case among the Native American community," Quintana said.

The second of the two meetings focused primarily on sampling the concerns of American Indians.

"Those people who commented in both meetings said they were worried about workforce issues, about how to keep professionals here — especially retaining behavioral health counselors," he said.

The comprehensive health plan lists priorities and goals for state and local governments, health care providers, businesses, schools and individuals.

Its priorities include health care disparities, workforce issues, immunizations, prevention of teenage pregnancy and suicide, emergency and long-term care systems, health care coverage and access, behavioral health, oral and environmental health, and issues related to attaining a healthier weight.


Like Farmington, behavioral health issues — particularly suicide and suicide prevention — topped the list in both Portales and Las Vegas.

Quintana said attendance here was better than advance registration indicated it would be. The first meeting drew 36 people, 19 more than had registered. The second meeting — geared to American Indian concerns — was even more surprising, Quintana said.

"We had nine registered, but 27 people came to speak," he said.

Data from the meetings is transcribed for the department and posted on its Web site, Click on the link to "Strategic Health Plan Feedback."

Cornelia de Bruin: