The first step to mental health services

The first step to obtaining mental health services at Socorro Mental Health is a behavioral health assessment. The assessment is required by any of the potential funding sources whether someone is using Medicaid, Medicare, or most insurance companies.

The assessment gives providers an idea of ​​the problems the person might face, helps determine the medical necessity of treatment, and allows insurance to cover services. The behavioral health assessment determines the severity of a person’s symptoms and the impairments they have due to their illness. Sometimes, after the assessment, patients are referred to both a therapist and a community support worker.

Presbyterian Medical Services Socorro Community Health Center.
Photo courtesy PMS

Community support workers are like a behavioral health coach, helping someone manage symptoms and use effective coping strategies. If the person needs housing or has no income, they can help them obtain general assistance. They also encourage patients to come to other medical appointments.

A person in crisis must be seen within the hour. If someone comes in with a mental health crisis, they don’t need the behavioral health assessment before talking with a therapist. Some people are able to manage a crisis with a visit from a therapist, while others may require hospitalization.

“It’s really more about managing the risk and making sure they’re able to protect themselves, the people in their environment are safe and helping them see what they need to mitigate the crisis.” said Deborah Bankson, clinical services administrator for Presbyterian Medical Service Sites in Socorro and Catron counties.

Many patients of prescribing psychologist John Courtney contact him through their primary care physician. For psychiatric services, patients can consult the psychologist without the evaluation and without benefiting from therapy services. However, Courtney usually prescribes therapy in addition to medication, as therapy is a good way to help patients resolve underlying issues.

The Socorro Community Health Center, where Courtney is placed, is meant to be a model of integrated care, where psychiatry and primary care work together.

Socorro Mental Health also offers psychosocial rehabilitation services, which are courses with evidence-based programs on topics such as stress management, mindfulness, and trauma. Mental illness often isolates people, and group interventions help people realize they are not alone with their struggles, Bankson said.

They also offer outpatient services for substance use disorders.

“You can see people walking into this place literally on their last drop and in a few months they can start feeling remarkably better. What we do works, that’s for sure. We really are a safety net,” Courtney said.


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