6:00am

Fri August 1, 2014
Health

Colorado Launches Statewide Mental Health Hotline

On August 1, the state will flip the switch on a crisis hotline that will offer assistance and support on a wide range of mental health issues — from those feeling suicidal to those who are grieving or stressed.

1-844-493-TALK is a 24/7 hotline will have trained crisis clinicians and peer support specialists. It’s operated by Metro Crisis Services, which scaled up its operations after winning a $2.2 million contract from the state.

“Our expertise is to know how to resolve complex and even simple problems that might be going on for someone. They’re simple for us because we hear them everyday, we have that expertise. It doesn’t feel simple when you are the person that’s having that crisis,” said Metro Crisis Services CEO Bev Marquez.

The effort is funded by the state, and part of a larger $20 million endeavor to change how those going through mental health crises seek help. Gov. John Hickenlooper came up with the idea after the Aurora Theater and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The plan hit some snags during the bidding process, causing a judge to issue a preliminary injunction. That court order was lifted June 11, freeing up the state to proceed with plans.

When it’s fully operational, Metro Crisis Services expects to receive close to 500 calls per day. Marquez said Metro Crisis Services has also implemented a database to track and collect data about outcomes and service gaps.

"Our expertise is to know how to resolve complex and even simple problems that might be going on for someone."

“Clinical data remains confidential at all times. Because we are a nonprofit and rely on public funding and private funding, our supporters do need to know that difference that we make,” she said.

The other components of Colorado’s $20 million effort include places for face-to-face support like stabilization centers, which will be positioned across the state. Those are expected to be up and running by the end of the year.