EDITOR'S NOTE: Some quotes have been modified for clarity and understanding.
DENVER — In less than two weeks, a national hotline dedicated to mental health will go live. Here in Colorado, crisis counselors have been preparing for the launch for months.
"We've been really busy over the last couple of months growing our team and expanding our infrastructure at our agency," said Cheri Skelding, clinical director of Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners (RMCP). "That includes hiring many new team members on our frontlines ... which are individuals who are answering our crisis line and our support line in preparation for 988."
Beginning July 16, Americans in crisis will be able to call 988 to get connected to suicide prevention resources and mental health counselors.
"And three digit numbers aren't something that just exists. It's something that has to be created, and the entire nation and all of our telecommunications companies have to be on board and it has to be made," Skelding said. "So the fact that this is happening, just for accessibility alone, is a big deal."
Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners already provides 24/7 crisis support through the Colorado Crisis Services and the state's existing hotline for mental health — 1-844-493-8255.
In 2020, Congress passed bipartisan legislation mandating the launch of 988 in each state by this summer.
Skelding says they've bolstered their team to support the new hotline.
"It's a fluid number, but we've we've added well over about 60 people to our team so far, and we're not done yet," she said.
Come July 16, anyone with a Colorado area code who calls 988 will be routed to a crisis counselor from RMCP. Individuals will be connected with appropriate resources, and follow-up care can be arranged.
"If you're not calling from a phone that has a Colorado area code, you won't necessarily come to our center. You'll be routed to the center which corresponds with your area code," Skelding said.
To read more about the launch of 988 in Colorado, click here.