Regional crisis system improvements planned
DENVER (August 21, 2017) — More than $9.5 million in enhancements to the Colorado crisis response system will be used for creative and regional solutions to better serve individuals in crisis.
Senate Bill 17-207, which was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in May, provided $7.1 million to the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) in the Colorado Department of Human Services to expand the crisis system and better equip law enforcement to respond to individuals in mental health crisis. In addition, the Long Bill allocated $2.6 million for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) pilots to assist law enforcement with redirecting individuals to community-based services instead of jail.
The planned regional improvements will increase collaboration with local law enforcement, improve capacity to conduct face-to-face (including telehealth) assessments; ensure that walk-in centers, crisis stabilization units and acute treatment units are able to accept and triage individuals on emergency mental health holds; and expand local partnerships to ensure jails are not used as a placement option for individuals on emergency mental health holds.
The crisis system in Colorado includes a 24-hour hotline staffed by professional counselors, a peer line, walk-in crisis centers, crisis stabilization centers and respite and mobile crisis services.
Colorado’s crisis services are split into four regions -- West Slope Casa, Southern Colorado Crisis Connection, Northeast Behavioral Health and Community Crisis Connection (which covers the Denver metro). The funding provided includes $500,000 for each region to make local improvements, as well as $110,000 each for a regional coordinator. The Western Slope received an additional $976,255 specifically to enhance rural crisis response, which is a target area for improvement for the crisis system. Enhancement plans have been approved for the first three regions, with plans pending for Community Crisis Connection.
“This funding was set aside to make sure each region could identify what was most needed and fill in the gaps,” OBH Director Nancy VanDeMark said. “These are community-based solutions from our partners, and we’re eager to better serve Coloradans in need through these targeted improvements.”
This first infusion of funds to improve the crisis system, which is more than $3.4 million, supports the following regional plans:
- West Slope Casa will:
- Enhance the mobile crisis team in the southwest region to include Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties to respond to multiple places at once and respond more quickly.
- Add walk-in capacity and four to six crisis stabilization unit beds to an existing detox facility in Summit County.
- Add walk-in services and four crisis stabilization unit beds to a facility under construction in Montrose County.
- Secure transportation service in Routt and Moffat counties.
- Southern Colorado Crisis Connection will:
- Establish a new walk-in center, a crisis stabilization unit and a withdrawal management unit in Otero County.
- Hire a patient navigator to relieve law enforcement if a patient is brought to the Emergency Department in the San Luis Valley.
- Establish a 24/7 walk-in facility in Alamosa and some respite bed services.
- Northeast Behavioral Health will:
- Enhance mobile response capacity in the northeast region.
- Add security staff to existing facilities in Weld and Larimer counties to be able to accept higher acuity clients.
- Add more case manager services to assist with wraparound services and engaging people in treatment.
Senate Bill 207 was the product of recommendations from the Mental Health Hold Task Force, which was created at the governor’s request in 2016 to identify ways Colorado’s system could better serve individuals in a mental health crisis. The task force -- composed of a diverse set of stakeholders including law enforcement, state legislators, mental health advocates, hospitals, clinicians, regulatory agencies and people with lived experience and their families -- worked with the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to create the solution presented in the bill.
Additional enhancements through both Senate Bill 207 and the Long Bill will be completed through the state solicitation process. Those enhancements include first responder/law enforcement training, a pilot program on improving emergency transportation options, a pre-booking diversion program that connects individuals with case managers who can provide resources instead of charging an individual with a crime, and a program that pairs law enforcement officers with behavioral health specialists for mental health-related police calls. Upcoming solicitations can be viewed at www.colorado.gov/vss .
More on Colorado Crisis Services
Colorado Crisis Services is available to help with a mental health, substance use or emotional crisis, 24/7/365 by phone, text or in person. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255), text TALK to 38255 to speak confidentially to a trained professional, or visit one of the walk-in crisis centers across the state. Visit ColoradoCrisisServices.org to learn more.