Colorado launches mental health hotline

Photo: Making a phone call

A mental health hotline approved by the state Legislature in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting and Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is now operational.

State officials say mental health professionals are available around the clock to Coloradans in crisis at 844-493-TALK (8255).

“We do not want to lose one more person to the tragedy of suicide, gun violence, substance abuse or mental illness,” Gov. John Hickenlooper says. “Colorado made an unwavering commitment to redesign and strengthen our mental health service support system and this is a critical step."

The governor proposed a $20 million package to help address mental health during the 2013 legislative session. In addition to the hotline, the legislation included creating more mental health crisis centers around the state.

The plan cleared some legal challenges to its bidding process this year. An injunction against the plan was lifted in June, allowing the hotline and centers to move forward. The centers are expected to be in place by the end of the year.

KUNC reports the hotline will be 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,” Metro Crisis Services CEO Bev Marquez told KUNC.

Metro Crisis Services expects to receive close to 500 calls per day.