Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) announced Friday that Colorado Crisis Services, the state’s behavioral health response system, has provided more than 1 million services to Coloradans since the program’s inception in 2014.

“Colorado Crisis Services is truly a lifeline for Coloradans struggling with behavioral health challenges,” Polis said in a news release.

“Our administration is focused on providing affordable, accessible treatment in every corner of the state and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. While we have a long way to go, I am heartened to see that so many people are finding support through this vital program.”

Colorado Crisis Services handled 74 percent of responses through its hotline, which connects individuals to a crisis counselor or peer specialist (someone who has overcome similar experiences) over phone, chat or text. The remaining 26 percent of responses took place at crisis walk-in centers, crisis stabilization units, mobile units and respite providers located throughout the state.

"We are incredibly proud to reach this milestone because it represents thousands of people who had access to critical support when they most needed it,” said Dr. Robert Werthwein, Director of the Office of Behavioral Health, which oversees Colorado Crisis Services.

"More than one million Coloradans struggle with a behavioral health condition, so resources like Colorado Crisis Services are absolutely essential as we aim to design a system that is accessible for all."

Colorado Crisis Services provides residents with mental health, substance use or emotional crisis help, information and referrals. Its mission is to strengthen Colorado’s mental health system by providing Coloradans with greater access to crisis services wherever they are at 24/7, regardless of ability to pay.

In State Fiscal Year 2019, Coloradans cited self-harm (30%), situational stress (26%) and substance use (11%) as the top reasons for seeking help.

Increasingly Coloradans are connecting with Colorado Crisis Services via text, rising from 858 texts in SFY 2016 to 14,318 in SFY 2019. The trend is driven in part by youth ages 13-17, who now represent 26 percent of all crisis hotline texters — up from 16 percent two years ago.

The state is also focused on ramping up mobile response, in which clinicians are deployed to meet individuals, conduct an assessment and determine treatment needs in person. In the first three months of State Fiscal Year 2019, the crisis hotline dispatched teams that responded to 514 cases across the state.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help dealing with one, call this toll-free number 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. Chat services are also available from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. daily at coloradocrisisservices.org.

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