When county commissioners expressed their concerns at a July meeting about the proliferation of fentanyl and rampant opioid addiction in the county, there was earnest talk about forming a task force.

That discussion spurred area professionals in the mental health field to show up at the next meeting on Aug. 8 and outline what they are already doing in the face of these growing problems.

It turns out, they are doing quite a lot.

In fact, it was the perfect time to present the comprehensive resource guide that was already in the works when the commission first asked what can be done.

At the Aug. 8 meeting, several representatives from county programs, nonprofits and private sector therapy practices came together to brief the commissioners on the breadth and depth of services available in Socorro. In the agenda packet was a 50+ page document that lists all of these services and complete contact info.

Socorro Mental Health, Full Circle, SCOPE Health Council, the SCCAP (Socorro County Community Alternative Program) office, and Project AWARE all spoke to the board about their concerted efforts.

Community events such as the Overdose Awareness Walk, the Recovery Pow-Wow are ways for Socorro to come together in positive, healthy ways to combat addiction, to reduce the stigma of asking for help, and to also reach out to people in crisis.

Project AWARE works in the schools to treat trauma victims, severely mentally challenged and those students with generational trauma.  Jackie Muncy, program manager, said that it’s essential that “we have to look at them as human beings in our community and how can we help them.”

To that end, Muncy said, “If we don’t start having conversations … and it’s not just with us providers … it’s everyone in this community… we’ve got to start having conversations so that we can connect and get the message out.”

Founder of Herron Solutions LLC, Michelle Herron spoke to the commissioners about the mission and approach for their work.

“We have community support services that go out to wherever people who need us are—in parks or shelters.… we are not waiting for them to come to us.” Of their 25 employees, nearly all of them have credentials and are licensed, but also have a history of successful recovery that helps them relate to addicts. The compassion and trust they build with clients gives them the hope and purpose they need for, as Herron puts it, “a total renovation of character” required to beat addiction.

Herron was born and raised in Socorro, “and this town has my heart,” she said to the commissioners. In a later interview with the Chieftain, Herron said she hopes to tell her story of recovery, and she urgently wants people in need to understand they “are worthy of getting better.”

SCOPE Health Council is active in the community with numerous programs such as Drive 365 (by youth for youth), NARCAN training, positive health promotions and events such as “Wellness Wednesday” movies every month.

Full Circle Recovery started in July 2020 with the aim of doing intensive outpatient therapy for both adolescents and adults at the height of COVID-19 when mental health was facing perhaps its biggest challenge and also its biggest obstacles. Full Circle provides drug treatment but also other mental health services for trauma, depression, mood disorders, anger management and parenting support.

Stephanie Silva, Socorro County Juvenile Probation, also reported to the commissioners and impressed upon them that the tactics with juveniles are miles apart from the adult detention center practices. With an eye to preventing further trouble with law enforcement, their program emphasizes less punishment and more community engagement and service. Silva told the commissioners that they try to “meet them where they are” and fulfill their immediate needs.

The commissioners thanked the participants at the meeting, and have plans to support all of these efforts, but most importantly, pledged to get the word out to the community about these services.

Muncy also strongly recommended that everyone go through the QPR training and certification. QPR stands for “Questions, Persuade and Refer,” which is suicide-prevention training that helps participants recognize the warning signs of suicide and refer at-risk people for help.

Another group that spoke at length to the commissioners were representatives from Herron Solutions. This LLC has offices in Belen, and last week opened a center in Socorro, on the N. Frontage Road. The center offers GED tutoring, job skills training, a computer center for resume writing and job applications, plus a steady round of group meetings. The clinical staff are bound by HIPAA, and the center takes Medicare and Medicaid in most cases.