Behavioral Health and Substance Use Treatment Services by Phone During COVID-19 Emergency
Individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues have unique challenges when it comes to coping with COVID-19.
That’s why the New Mexico Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) of the Human Services Department (HSD) is working hard to ensure you can seek and receive treatment and that your services are uninterrupted during this public health emergency.
We know many of you have questions about those services– like how the outbreak will impact your ability to see a doctor or therapist, access medication or continue treatment.
Below are a few questions to get you started.
Frequently Asked Questions
Distant Treatment Resources for Current and New Patients
Yes. With the help of technology and a new directive from HSD, you can still see a doctor or therapist, access medication and/or continue treatment.
In-person outpatient clinics are considered essential public facilities and have been asked to stay open in public health emergencies, as well as continue to accept new patients. Remember to call any provider or clinic before you go, including if you feel unwell or need to begin services for the first time. In most cases you should be able to initiate services without going into the clinic physically.
HSD has broadened access to services delivered using the telephone and video so that patients can receive a wide range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.
If the provider suggests you go into the clinic, you may do so. Prepare by wearing a mask of possible, and expect to abide by social distancing guidelines in the clinic setting.
Opioid treatment programs, including those that provide medication assisted treatment (MAT), are still available. Nearly all of our behavioral health treatment services can now be given over the phone, or by other technologies such as videos, to deliver care to patients at a distance. Services such as weekly or monthly counseling and assessments will be conducted through telehealth means such as video and/or audio appointments.
The only face-to-face interaction that may be required is for medical services such as injections of psychotropic medication or some medication dosing for opioid use disorders.
New methadone patients are still required to have an in-person physical evaluation before being prescribed and treated with methadone in an opioid treatment program. Buprenorphine patients may use telemedicine. Please call your provider for more information.
In special circumstances, the following may be available with approval from a healthcare provider but may not apply to all medications. Please check with your healthcare provider to discuss special circumstances.
- Curbside dosing for methadone or buprenorphine products is available if patients are currently taking such medication as part of an opioid treatment program.
- Take-home dosing for methadone or buprenorphine products, if patients are currently taking such medication as part of an opioid treatment program.
- Home delivery of medication to patients if they cannot leave their home, or if they are experiencing symptoms that would prevent them from leaving their home.
If you are in need of additional Behavioral Health Services please call 1 (855) 662-7474 for help identifying a provider in your area.
Yes. BHSD recommends temporarily stopping in-person group services. However, if an agency has the means and precautions in place to continue group care while following the Governor’s directives, and if the group is five persons or fewer (including the therapist), the agency may be still be providing in-person visits.
If the agency has not transitioned to telehealth, BHSD has recommended infection control measures and social distancing protocols that follow the Governor’s orders.
Behavioral health clinics and facilities are doing their very best to provide necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for any face-to-face interactions. Clinics are working with the state, cities and counties to have enough PPE on hand.
All OTPs continue to do initial appointments and provide opioid use medication assisted treatment, such as suboxone (buprenorphine) and methadone.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also collects information on thousands of state-licensed providers who specialize in treating substance use disorders, addiction, and mental illness.
All of the above services and many others are available through Centennial Care, the NM Medicaid program. To find out if you are eligible for Medicaid, please click here.
The most common medications used in treatment of opioid addiction are buprenorphine and methadone. Sometimes another medication, called naltrexone, is used.
Buprenorphine and methadone reduce cravings by occupying receptors in the brain used by opiates including the misused opioid.
Some of these harm reduction tips are easier to do than others, and some may seem impossible depending on your current situation. Do the best you can. Reach out to friends, harm reduction, syringe service providers (SSP), and other health or social service providers to plan for what to do to so you can stay safe and take care of one another.
Save a Life Safely – Overdose Prevention and Naloxone
The following recommendations are specific to overdose prevention and Naloxone distribution.
- Overdose prevention and education and naloxone training should be modified to encourage social distancing of at least 6 feet.
- Naloxone should always be used first to reduce the potential need for rescue breathing. Brief contact closer than 6 feet for the usage of Naloxone, or to check if someone is breathing, poses small risk for COVID-19 transmission that has the significant potential benefit of reducing harm from overdose.
- Rescue breathing presents a risk of COVID-19 transmission, even with the use of a rescue breathing face mask.
- Program participants should be educated on these potential risks, so they can make informed decisions.
- Program participants should continue to be educated about the state’s Good Samaritan Law and calling 911 in all overdose situations.
- Not using alone should be heavily emphasized, even during social distancing.
- Individuals with phones are encouraged to call someone they know so they can stay on the phone with them while they use. An option that is available to individuals who use substances is the national never use alone hotline. The number is 800-484-3731 and more information can be found at www.neverusealone.com.
Additional information on COVID-19 in New Mexico can be found at https://cv.nmhealth.org/.
Announcing the NMConnect mobile app!
The New Mexico Crisis and Access Line (NMCAL) is excited to announce the NMConnect smartphone app for all New Mexicans.
NMConnect is here to close the gap by engaging people with immediate access to mental health professionals and resources. After serving the state for over 7 years and fielding more than 245,000 calls and 70,000 text messages, the app will enable NMCAL to reach even more of New Mexico’s 2 million+ residents.
- Directly connect to a counselor or peer support worker;
- Directly text a peer support worker;
- Access up to date resources for substance use, mental health services, and other community resources
- Updated information on the state response to COVID-19