FARMINGTON – San Juan County hired its first behavioral health services director to address service gaps, the county announced this week.
Su Hodgman, who previously worked as a substance abuse counselor at Four Winds Recovery Center, was hired in October. She also spent seven years with the San Juan County Alternative Sentencing Division, and founded the nonprofit Masada House, a recovery home for people transitioning out of treatment.
“Rather than the end of a process to address shortcomings of behavioral health in San Juan County, hiring a behavioral health director is the start,” said San Juan County Commission Chairman Jack Fortner in a written statement. “We have identified the problems, now we can work to address them.”
The creation of a behavioral health director position is the result of a countywide analysis of available behavioral health services requested by the San Juan County Commission in December 2018. The six-month study found behavioral health service gaps in five main areas: public education and awareness; services, treatment and access; housing, transitional living and safe alternatives; coordination, collaboration and alignment of services; and behavioral health workforce and psychiatric services.
One of the biggest issues facing the county is a lack of providers, both psychologists and psychiatrists, according to Hodgman. Currently, she said her work focuses on connecting with the community resources like treatment centers, San Juan Regional Medical Center, police department, emergency services and peer support programs to create a strategic plan.
In addition to hiring a behavioral health director, the report also recommended implementing a system to collaborate and coordinate behavioral health services throughout the county. Longer-term recommendations from the report included a consolidated website of behavioral health resources and service providers in the community, and establishing a Human Services Coordinating Center where community members could access services.
Hodgman said the county commissioners are listening to the needs of the community and she is the “first indicator of their willingness and commitment to solving the problems.”