With a budget of about $31 million a year, Colorado Crisis Services has reached Coloradans 1 million times since it began six years ago.
What is the value of a life steered off drugs, away from suicide, into a better night's sleep with some untethered support to put one's life back together, sometimes in the dead of night on the phone with a trained professional who doesn't charge the caller a dime? That's how it works.
Then-Gov. John Hickenlooper and the legislature enacted the program in response to the mental health care failures that contributed to the Aurora theater shooting in 2012.
Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Human Services' Office of Behavioral Health announced the milestone Friday for a program that averages more than 54,000 contacts a year — 74% via call or text and 26% from those who visit a crisis center, stabilization unit or mobile responder.
“Colorado Crisis Services is truly a lifeline for Coloradans struggling with behavioral health challenges,” Polis said in a statement. “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.”
Dr. Robert Werthwein, director of the Office of Behavioral Health, said he was proud the state had been there for so many people "when they most needed it.”
"More than 1 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," he said.
As of last year, those who reached out cited self-harm 30% of the time, situational stress 26% and substance use 11%.
The toll-free number is 1-844-493-TALK (8255), or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional around the clock. Additionally, chat services are available from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. daily at coloradocrisisservices.org.