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Colorado announces new veterans behavioral health program

The Colorado Department of Human Services launched a new behavioral health program to connect veterans in distress with support.

COLORADO, USA — The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) announced a new behavioral health program that will connect veterans in distress to follow-up support through Colorado Crisis Services (CCS).

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The program will work with hospitals and other health care providers across the state to identify veterans who have experienced a mental health or substance use crisis and could benefit from additional support. Veterans will be paired with a trained crisis or peer support specialist, who is a fellow veteran, to ensure they continue care, begin outpatient treatment and receive support during a period of heightened risk. 

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the veteran suicide rate in Colorado is significantly higher than the national veteran suicide rate and significantly higher than the national suicide rate.

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“Veterans experiencing behavioral health crises often end up at emergency rooms for care, and research shows they are especially vulnerable in the first week following discharge,” said Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera. “By providing personal support during that time, we can put more veterans on the path to mental wellness and significantly reduce the likelihood of an additional suicide attempt.”

Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners (RMCP), the organization that staffs the CCS hotline and support line, has been operating a hospital follow-up program, but the focus on veterans as a priority population began this month. With funding from CDHS’s Office of Behavioral Health, RMCP will hire veterans to serve as crisis and peer support specialists and expand the free program statewide over the coming months. 

“Service members share deep bonds, and that connection can be a real asset to recovery,” said  Rep. Jason Crow (CO-D), a former U.S. Army Ranger. “Having veterans partner with fellow veterans will encourage more to seek behavioral health support and tackle this challenge as a team.” 

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RMCP is recruiting hospitals and other health care providers to provide referrals to the program and veterans to staff the initiative. Interested parties should contact RMCP at 303-928-7117 for partnership and employment opportunities. For more information, read this fact sheet for hospitals and health care providers and this fact sheet for prospective crisis specialists.

Veterans, and all Coloradans, wanting to talk about any mental health, substance use or emotional concern can call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255 for free, confidential, 24/7 counseling support. Learn more at ColoradoCrisisServices.org.

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