DENVER (March 17, 2021) — The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) is planning for the rollout of 9-8-8, a new, nationwide, three-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that will launch by the summer of 2022.
OBH has convened the 9-8-8 Implementation Planning Committee to advise on key coordination, capacity, funding and communication issues, and develop a roadmap for the 9-8-8 launch in Colorado that will be released this fall. Committee members represent behavioral health providers, government and law enforcement agencies, community and advocacy organizations, and people with lived experience with mental health and substance use conditions.
Because 9-8-8 is not yet operational, Coloradans who need mental health and substance use support should continue to contact Colorado Crisis Services by calling 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or texting TALK to 38255. An order passed by the Federal Communications Commission requires all phone service providers to direct 9-8-8 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022. Colorado Crisis Services already answers all calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline placed from Colorado area codes.
“After a record-breaking year for the Colorado Crisis Line, we know Coloradans are seeking mental health and substance use support at elevated levels,” said Robert Werthwein, director of OBH. “We are eager to work with our partners to roll out 9-8-8 and make these critical services even easier to access.”
The 9-8-8 Implementation Planning Committee includes the following members:
- Robert Werthwein, OBH
- Cheri Skelding, Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners
- Sarah Brummet, Office of Suicide Prevention, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
- Jennifer Conrad, Signal Behavioral Health Network
- Krista Cavataio, Rocky Mountain Health Plans
- Elizabeth Richards, Beacon Health Options
- Kelly Bowman, Health Colorado, Inc.
- Scott Snow, Denver Police Department
- Mandy Stollsteimer, WestCO PSAP
- Moe Keller, Mental Health Colorado
- Doyle Forrestal, Colorado Behavioral Health Council
- Melissa Eddleman, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
- Abe Laydon, Douglas County Commission
- Daryl Branson, Public Utilities CommissionChristine Harms, School Safety Resource Center
- Anthony Young, Association of Black Psychologists
- Hope Hyatt, Colorado Mental Wellness Network
- Ana Vizoso, Servicios de La Raza
- Judy Campbell, professional with lived experience
- Kate Fitch, public health professional with lived experience
The committee will also discuss ways to improve in-state answer rates and provide better handoffs with local community crisis services, including 911 operators, mobile crisis teams and other outreach alternatives to law enforcement and emergency response. Members of the public may listen to committee meetings; visit the CDHS website for details: cdhs.colorado.gov/behavioral-health/9-8-8-planning.
OBH received a grant from Vibrant Emotional Health, the administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, to develop the 9-8-8 implementation plan. Vibrant is a non-profit organization that helps individuals and families achieve emotional wellbeing and has awarded grants to 49 states and territories.
Colorado Crisis Services provides individuals 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, regardless of ability to pay.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help dealing with one, call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. Learn more at coloradocrisisservices.org.
Madlynn Ruble, Deputy Director of Communications