District 5

Commission Chair Gets First Lady’s Attention on Shortage of Mental Health Professionals


Bernalillo County Commission Chair Charlene Pyskoty met First Lady Jill Biden upon her arrival in Albuquerque and began a dialogue about the shortage of mental health professionals and how to bring more providers into the workforce.

Dr. Biden arrived in Albuquerque Wednesday and visited a vaccination clinic at a South Valley community health care center before moving on to the Navajo nation.

Commissioner Pyskoty, a licensed mental health therapist, says Dr. Biden, who has a doctorate in education, invited her to work with the Office of the First Lady on an educational initiative to encourage more students to enter the behavioral health professions.

“The First Lady was most gracious and seemed genuinely interested in discussing barriers to access for mental health services,” says County Commission Chair Charlene Pyskoty.  “I believe, as an educator, she understands the crisis our mental health system faces, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and is willing to work on this important issue.”

Behavioral health professionals include psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, addiction counselors, social workers, and mental health or family and marriage counselors.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration of the federal government, only 12.9% of the need for mental health professionals is met in New Mexico, and only 26.9% of the need for providers is met on the national level.

Chair Pyskoty has already reached out to the Office of the First Lady and looks forward to a productive partnership that will result in increasing the number of behavioral health providers to meet our burgeoning need for services.

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