Socorro County Prevention, Options and Education (SCOPE) is one group offering support to PSI/Safe Harbor. Sometimes called the Health Council, SCOPE’s mission is to bring people together to work for a safe and healthy community.

For the past several years, SCOPE has conducted community surveys to assess the physical, medical and mental challenges faced by Socorroans. As part of the new, statewide effort called “Ana Age 8” the health council is trying to “increase the protective factors available and thus decrease the adverse childhood events (ACE),” said SCOPE director Samantha Winter, which exacerbate mental health problems, leading to problems as an adult.

The 2021 community health survey, now available on the SCOPE website, outlines concerns respondents have about access to drugs, alcohol and correspondingly mental health services. SCOPE received 288 completed surveys.

The 2020 community health survey received answers from 505 Socorro residents throughout the county, from Alamillo and Alamo to the city. Of those responding, 30 percent reported trouble accessing medical care; fully one-third reported needing mental health services and a third of those said they had trouble getting care.

Nearly half of the survey respondents said they need food assistance, with a quarter of those saying they have difficulties getting it. Under public transportation, 18 percent of respondents said they need help with transportation with 65 percent saying they had difficulty accessing that help.

In the area of housing, 17 percent, or some 85 respondents said they face housing insecurity with 65 percent reporting problems accessing help. Housing insecurity, explains Winter, “is fairly common in the county. It’s not uncommon. They aren’t necessarily homeless if you consider that have a roof over their heads. But they are permanently couch surfing or living with friends or family.

“It can be quite a big issue because people are living overcapacity in opposition to their leasing agreements. And because of that, they end up homeless.”

Behavioral health is an issue of particular focus for SCOPE. Their “Stamp Out the Stigma” campaign includes the recent fun run. SCOPE also sponsors free movies at the Loma Theatre as part of their Wellness Wednesdays in collaboration with Students Offering Solutions. The most recent movie was “It’s a Wonderful Life.” A previous movie, “Inside Out” brought out 65 people, Winter said.

“We’re slowing but steadily getting that going,” she said. “We’re trying to get people to talk about health problems.”

One of the problems locally is that Socorro Mental Health has had big turnovers and currently is lacking two counselors.

“They are having a hard time getting people to stay,” Winter said. And while telemedicine can offer some options, getting people to the clinic compounds the problems involved.

Another focus for SCOPE is the number of students who report using drugs and/or alcohol. And students report there are few mentors with whom they feel comfortable.

Some of the comments the SCOPE community survey respondents included are:

“I’m not lazy. I want to work but no one will help me.”

“Those first 2 years are very challenging when you don’t have family members who can watch the infant and 2 working parents.”

“Due to financial obligations—bills, etc.—we have a hard time paying for healthcare and food. We have 3 jobs to make ends meet, cuts down on family time.

“We need better transportation, better internet service…we need a lot. Just get something going.”

Gwen Roath | Guest Writer