NMSU Community Advisory Board Meets Camp Hope

Matt Mercer with Members of the NMSU Community Advisory Board at Camp Hope

In April Sue Campbell and I were invited to participate in helping form the Community Advisory Board headed by NMSU’s Counseling and Educational Psychology Department. And this past Monday we hosted the monthly CAB meeting at the Community of Hope and got to introduce some of the members to Camp Hope and give them a tour of the MVCH campus.

The vision of the Community Advisory Board is to foster strong working relationships between the CEP department (and other departments) at New Mexico State University, and mental health service agencies in the Las Cruces area in order to address current issues and trends in mental health needs. Therefore, the Community Advisory Board will actively promote collaborations and dialogue directed at providing relevant training, research, practice and service in counselor education [as well as other service degree programs at NMSU] to meet the mental health needs of the community. 

Some of the groups and agencies represented in this effort to increase the quality of Mental Health resources and services in the Greater Las Cruces area are: 

NMSU’s Counseling and Educational Psychology Department 
Community of Hope
J. Paul Taylor Center
NMSU Community Mental Health & Wellness Clinic
Las Cruces School District 
Mesilla Valley Hospital
Southwest Counseling Center
Border Servant Corps
CYFD Juvenile Justice Services
Some of the topics we discussed at the first meeting:

The following areas were identified as being important to those in attendance:

  1. Establishment of a mental health service center in an accessible location;
  2. Border mental health issues, impact of violence on families and children in school;
  3. Topics for CEUs: Trauma counseling/PTSD, both increasing trauma therapy knowledge among mental health care workers in the community as well as for students in the CEP program;
  4. Service provisions to military; current, veterans, families of vets including children in schools;
  5. Public outreach via Great Conversations or similar format to foster public awareness of community issues;
  6. Increase in Spanish speaking/multi-culturally-responsive services;
  7. Juvenile interventions;
  8. Community/university collaboration on grant acquisition efforts;

 The following were identified as being important elements for inclusion in our Vision Statement:

  1. Community informing the CEP department and other NMSU program’s of issues important to include in their respective curriculum;
  2. Create a space for community collaborations to develop for benefit of community and students who are learning to provide quality services that produce real change in communities;

     3.  Networking to identify needs and connections including generating community based research; fostering relevant educational experiences [providing CEU’s free to the community], appropriate and effective advocacy efforts, and identifying partnerships [internship placements] and funding opportunities

Though this project is still in its infancy, it is truly inspiring to see this amount of inter-agency collaboration happening, with the potential of many new out reach projects and partnerships growing on the horizon. One of the most interesting developments arising out these groups coming together, from my observations as a newbie to this field, is the potential for these agencies to consolidate their efforts together, increasing the possibility of generating more grant funding for the long term and eliminating the competition between the non-profits.
So many people are stepping forward to include themselves and their groups as part of this initiative that over the next months we should start to see some exciting events and new doors opening up here. Like; Joann Vullo from Optum Health, Julie Stanton from Mesilla Valley Hospice, Janet Lindsey from Camp Corazones HIV/AIDS outreach education and prevention.
My blog GURU, who has taught me how to use the website over the last months, has also started a site for the NMSU Community Advisory Board to provide an easy to access resource tool for all these participants to organize and plan together.
This is a very exciting time in Las Cruces for real social change to begin through community action. We are at Camp Hope are pleased to be part of such an amazing initiative!

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