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Denver to expand program that sends mental health professionals to 911 calls

The expansion comes after the STAR program garnered success with its pilot in 2020. So far, mental health professionals have responded to over 1,100 911 calls.

DENVER — Denver's STAR program will be expanding staff and resources in the upcoming months due to the success seen since the program's pilot in 2020. 

STAR stands for "Support Team Assisted Response." The program dispatches licensed mental health professionals rather than officers when a 911 call is made for a behavioral health crisis. 

The program currently has two teams that deploy vans to calls, but the expansion will lead to six teams across the city of Denver. That will mean adding more vans a swell. 

>> Register to watch a meeting with the STAR Community Advisory Committee

Calls will often involve people experiencing homelessness. They also respond to welfare checks, overdoses and trespassing calls. 

The two teams in place are currently responding city-wide. They say they might even expand to as many as ten teams--if the number of calls warrants.

The teams respond following 911 calls, but they are also looking for new strategies to help people outside of that. 

"There are maybe a number of communities that are initially reticent to make a call to 911 because a stigma is a reality in many of the communities in Denver," Jeff Holiday, Public Health Manager with the Office of Behavioral Health Strategies, said. "So we're continuing to push even on that front to look at ways that we can engage STAR in the future without having to go through a 911,"

The goal is to have the expansion completed by the end of the year. 

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MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES


SUICIDE & MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support for those in crisis 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. 

Colorado Crisis Services 

There are four ways to get confidential and immediate help: by phone at 1-844-493-8255, over text message (text the word “TALK” to 38255), via an online chat service, or at walk-in centers throughout metro Denver, northern, the southeast region and the western slope. Many of these services are available 24/7. 

Trained counselors are available to help with relationship problems, depression, bullying, stress, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, family crisis and more. 

Mental Health Colorado 

This advocacy organization hosts a variety of online mental health screening in both English and Spanish, a mental health toolkit for schools, a page dedicated to the latest mental health research, as well as a variety of events throughout the year. 

Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health 

Using this link, you can find the community mental health center nearest to you. All of the centers accept Medicaid and most have sliding payment options for those who do not have insurance. 

SUBSTANCE ABUSE RESOURCES 

Alcoholics Anonymous Colorado 

Find meetings throughout Colorado as well as information about the program and other services and events put on by AA. 

Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation 

A division of UCHealth, CeDAR offers 30- to 120-day residential treatment programs, outpatient treatment programs, medically-supervised detox programs, and recovery management. 

Denver Health STEP Program 

The Substance Abuse Treatment, Education and Prevention Program was established specifically to help teens and young adults from 11 to 24 years of age. It offers a 12-week outpatient program on the campus of Denver Health and in several Denver Public Schools.