Colorado’s first ever statewide mental health crisis hotline was launched this week, with mental health professionals available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to support those in crisis.
The hotline number is 844-493-TALK (8255), Gov. John Hickenlooper announced in a statement, in partnership with the state Department of Human Services.
“We do not want to lose one more person to the tragedy of suicide, gun violence, substance abuse or mental illness,” Hickenlooper said. “Colorado made an unwavering commitment to redesign and strengthen our mental health service support system and this is a critical step. The statewide hotline increases access to care for anyone in need and will help safeguard our residents, our families and our communities.”
The announcement came as many struggled with the apparent suicide death in California of beloved actor and comedic icon Robin Williams, who was long candid about his struggles with depression and addiction.
Suicide has a close tie with mental illness. More than 90 percent of those who take their own lives have depression or another mental disorder, or a substance abuse issue, according to one epidemiological study cited by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Rocky Mountain PBS I-News, in its Untreated series , reported that mental illnesses collectively make up the most prevalent conditions among Medicaid clients who frequent the emergency room six times or more in a span of 12 months. They’re more common than diabetes, asthma, or any other driver of ER use.
The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is partnering with Metro Crisis Services to operate the hotline, a significant component of the plan to improve mental health services in the state following the Aurora theater tragedy in 2012.
Callers to the Colorado Crisis and Support Line will be connected with experienced professionals, counselors and peer specialists who are trained to assess and plan for safety, provide solutions to persons or their loved ones who are experiencing a mental health or substance abuse issue, and, make referrals to resources as needed, according to the governor’s statement.