From The Chairman

photo On behalf of the faculty and staff, welcome to the University of New Mexico Department of Psychiatry.

This is an exciting time in healthcare. Though we face many challenges, we have even more opportunities. Our Department is uniquely placed to be an innovative leader and important partner in New Mexico’s behavioral health. Being the only medical school in the state, we have a unique responsibility. We are therefore focusing our efforts based on the needs of our state.  

Our Department’s fourfold mission (Education, Clinical Care, Research, and Community Engagement) mirrors the broader UNM Health Sciences Center mission and values as well as the Vision 2020 initiative. By building academic bridges with other departments throughout the University of New Mexico and beyond, we can leverage resources in order to reach our goals.

In addition to our general residency, we have fellowships, in Addictions, Geriatric Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine, and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. In addition, we just initiated two new tracks for the general psychiatric residency – Research and Rural & Community Psychiatry.

Due to the highly rural – and frontier – nature of our state, we are obliged to become national leaders in this area of psychiatry – not to do it would be a missed opportunity. We have developed tele-medical solutions so that mental health providers in rural and frontier areas have access to our specialized expertise. We are currently partnering with the Indian Health Service Tele-Behavioral Health Center for Excellence and others to offer seminars on a variety of important mental health subjects. This approach to healthcare offers great promise for our state as well as in national or international settings that face a large geographical area with a broadly dispersed, but smaller, population.

New Mexico offers tremendous prospects for research, especially in the areas of community need and special demographic populations including Native Americans and Hispanics. Our Center for Rural and Community Behavioral Health (CRCBH) has forged productive relationships with many of these stakeholders. We plan to expand on these partnerships and to create new ones in order to make sure that our mental health efforts are truly useful and culturally-sensitive. We also have strong research components in Addiction Psychiatry with federal and private funding. Other areas of strength include Geriatric Psychiatry, schizophrenia, ECT, and neuropsychiatry. We plan to explore mood disorders as an additional area of emphasis.

The research goals Department are to increase

  • NIH funding to the Department
  • Foundation funding
  • Collaborative relationships with other departments at UNM
  • Collaborative relationships with other departments of psychiatry across the nation and world

Clinical Care
Our clinical focus is to provide the best possible, cost effective psychiatric care to the people of New Mexico. However, New Mexico’s behavioral health needs are vast. To that end, our Department staffs the only 24/7 Psychiatric Emergency Service (PES) in the state. At the moment, the PES is a free standing unit separate from the rest of UNM Hospital (UNMH) emergency services.

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, our department will collaborate with other departments and disciplines across the UNM Health Science Center to develop a seamless and financially sustainable system of care. A key partner is the Department of Family and Community Medicine through patient-based primary care clinics. The availability of a closely integrated system of care also lends itself to Health Services Research and outcome studies on selected populations.

Due to New Mexico’s vast geographical challenges, we also continue to explore tele-medical applications where appropriate.

Community Engagement
Our Department shines in the area of community engagement. Our faculty members are active in listening to the needs of various communities in New Mexico and, based on those needs, seek ways to provide the best programs and information possible. The Center for Rural and Community Behavioral Health focuses on rural and frontier psychiatry, workforce training, resource development and more. Through public lectures and smaller presentations, our IDEAS in Psychiatry programming via public lectures helps combat the stigma that still, sadly, surrounds many of the discussions and decisions around mental illness.

We fully expect our Department to become an international leader in Addiction and Community & Rural Psychiatry, with an emphasis on indigenous and Hispanic populations. With what we are learning here, we can truly become a model for other schools across the nation, Latin America and developing countries.

We invite you to explore this website to see the breadth and depth of our Department’s commitment to our fourfold mission. Contact us if you want more information.

Mauricio Tohen MD, DrPH, MBA
Professor and Chairman,
Department of Psychiatry
Health Sciences Center, University of New Mexico