The free crisis hotline number is: 888-885-1222

Backers say the it should reduce the number of people being
arrested as the result of a mental health crisis, and keep them from
clogging emergency rooms, too.

One study says metro jails spend $34 million a year housing mentally
ill inmates. Another counts 20,000 unnecessary E-R visits for mental
health crises in Denver anually.

Don Ward is in charge of Metro Crisis Services, which runs the new
hotline. He says a lot of people in Denver don't know where to go for
help:

DON WARD: there are right now around 300,000 people in the Denver metro
area who are living with a serious mental health or substance abuse
problem. What we know is that many of those people aren't able to get
any kind of care.

The free hotline won't turn anyone away .A federal Recovery Act is providing substantial support this year.

We'll have more on this story on Colorado Matters next week.