Human Services Department announces the departure of Behavioral Health Services Division Director Neal Bowen

Neal Bowen’s leadership and knowledge of behavioral health helped transform the lives of many New Mexicans 

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) today announced the Director of Behavioral Health Services Division, Neal A. Bowen, PhD., is departing state government effective May 19, 2023, after leading the division since Nov. 15, 2019.  

Under Bowen’s strong leadership, HSD significantly expanded the behavioral health workforce across the state, from 2017 to 2022; 88.5 percent increase Medicaid psychiatric providers and 103.9 percent increase Medicaid Core Behavioral Health providers. As evidence of this network improvement, Medicaid member visits to behavioral health providers have more than doubled during this administration. 

Bowen also successfully led the launch of the new Crisis Now system, a statewide proactive and coordinated care system, to reach significantly more New Mexicans in need of mental and behavioral health support. Since implementing 988, the three-digit mental health lifeline, in July 2022, the state has seen a 50 percent increase in call volume from New Mexicans accessing the line for emotional support, and over 2,236 New Mexicans have called to receive counseling for thoughts of suicide. 

“It has been an honor and challenging privilege to serve the people of New Mexico in this role — I am grateful to the staff of the Behavioral Health Services Division and my colleagues across state government for their efforts to rebuild and improve the availability and quality of behavioral health services,” said Neal A. Bowen, PhD, Director of HSD’s Behavioral Health Services Division. “I am confident that the team at HSD will continue the progress we have made in transforming New Mexican’s lives.” 

“New Mexicans across the state have been positively impacted by the work of Dr. Bowen, who brought to HSD a diverse background and extensive behavioral health experience — and played a key role in rebuilding the behavioral health network in our state.” said Kari Armijo, acting cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Human Services Department. “It has been an honor to work with Dr. Bowen for the past four years, and his legacy as a pivotal behavioral health leader will prevail as he transitions into the next chapter of his life.” 

Bowen is a licensed psychologist in New Mexico. Prior to his appointment, he served as the chief mental health officer for Hidalgo Medical Services for over 14-years, growing a Mental Health Department integrated with a Community Health Clinic. New Mexico Primary Care Association named him the Behavioral Health Provider of the Year in 2011. He has clinical experience with adolescent and adult assessment and psychotherapy. He was an adjunct professor at Western New Mexico University for five years and taught psychology at Central Washington University for three years. Over the years, he has served on various boards such as New Mexico Advocates for Social Justice, New Mexico Counseling Association, New Mexico Primary Care Association, and the New Mexico Behavioral Health Provider Association. Dr. Bowen has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.  

HSD’s Behavioral Health Services Division serves as the mental health and substance abuse single state authority for New Mexico and served 212,575 New Mexico adults with behavioral health programs and services from July 2021 through June 2022. Jacqueline Nielsen, current Deputy Director of Policy and Prevention, will serve as Acting Director.  


The department wants to ensure our clients of uninterrupted access to the benefits available to them. The easiest way to do this is to make sure contact information is up to date on the YesNM website: Users can simply and easily update their address using the chat functionality there. Step-by-step directions on how to update your address are available here. Individuals seeking to apply for or check their SNAP benefits may apply online through or by phone at 1-800-283-4465. 

We talk, interpret, and smile in all languages. We provide written information to our customers in both English and Spanish, and interpretation services are available in 58 languages through our provider, CTS Language Link. For our hearing, and speech impaired customers, we utilize Relay New Mexico, a free 24-hour service that ensures equal communication access via the telephone to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled.  

The Human Services Department provides services and benefits to 1,080,708 New Mexicans through several programs including: the Medicaid Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Support Program, and several Behavioral Health Services.