Help When You Need It
The term “crisis” means different things to different people.
Some people may feel they are in crisis due to a significant life change, such as losing a job, getting divorced, being involved in an accident, or losing someone close to them. Others may need support when they are dealing with substance use or experiencing conflict in a relationship.
Some people just need someone to listen when they are feeling sad, anxious, or lonely. Any crisis, whether large or small, can negatively affect a person’s behavior, mood, and health. Whatever crisis means to you, 988 is here to help.
988 is a free, confidential service available to anyone in Colorado experiencing a mental health, substance use, or emotional crisis. People can reach out for themselves or for someone they are concerned about, such as a friend, neighbor, or loved one.
How It Works
People can choose the best option for them to receive support from a trained 988 care specialist.
When people reach out to 988, they will be asked if they or the person they are calling for is a veteran or LGBTQIA+. Callers will also be asked their name and phone number in case they get disconnected. Calling services are available in multiple languages; text and chat services are currently limited to English only.
How much, or how little, people share when they contact 988 is entirely up to them. Once connected, the 988 care specialist will:
Spread the Word
Health professionals and community organizations can link people to lifesaving support.
People who work in health care or community-based organizations can serve as critical connectors for people experiencing mental health or substance use issues. By helping spread awareness about 988, you can give hope to people in your community by referring them to a trained 988 care specialist.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is 988?
988 is Colorado’s new mental health and substance use help line that offers free, confidential support 24/7 through call-, text-, or chat-based support. People can connect with a trained 988 care specialist to get support when they are experiencing emotional distress or struggling with mental, behavioral health, or substance use challenges.
- What is the difference between 988 and Colorado Crisis Services?
In Colorado, there is no wrong door for people to get support with a mental health or substance use challenge. 988 is an additional resource that, along with Colorado Crisis Services, I Matter, and other services supports people with their mental health needs.
- Who can reach out to 988?
Anyone in Colorado can access free, confidential support for their mental and emotional health needs. 988 provides inclusive care to meet the unique needs of communities including youth, rural populations, BIPOC individuals, veterans, and people who are LGBTQIA2+.
- When should someone reach out to 988?
People can call, text, or chat 988 any time they need support for a mental health or substance use crisis.
If someone is experiencing grief, sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, stress from a significant life change, thoughts of suicide, or day-to-day emotional distress, 988 is here for them.
- What kind of training to 988 care specialists have?
988 care specialists undergo three weeks of training, followed by one week of job shadowing and testing to effectively and compassionately support people with a mental health or substance use concern. All 988 care specialists also participate in cultural competency training.
Peer specialists are individuals who have gone through similar experiences to the caller and are also trained to provide support and guidance on various topics.
- How do 988 and 911 interact?
988 was established to improve access to crisis services in a way that meets our country’s growing suicide and mental health-related crisis care needs. 988 provides easier access to the Lifeline network and related crisis resources, which are distinct from the public safety purposes of 911, where the focus is on dispatching Emergency Medical Services, fire and police as needed. If someone is experiencing a medical or life-threatening crisis, a 988 care specialist may ask their permission to transfer the call to 911. 988 and 911 work closely to ensure people in Colorado are connected to the care they need.
- Does 988 allow people to connect with someone in their community?
Yes. When someone calls or texts 988, the service automatically checks their area code or unique computer ID and routes them to the call center that serves their area.
BHA + 988 in Colorado
The Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) supports the logistics and implementation of 988 services in Colorado. To ensure a positive experience with 988, the BHA measures and monitors staffing levels, answer rates, and other capacity levels. In the robust landscape of mental and behavioral health services in Colorado, 988 is another open door for people in Colorado to access the mental and behavioral health support they need. The BHA’s vision is to build a robust crisis care response system across the state that links callers to community-based providers that can deliver a full range of crisis care services.
988 Crisis Hotline Enterprise Board of Directors
Senate Bill 21-154 established the 988 Crisis Hotline Enterprise in the Department to impose a 988 surcharge and a prepaid wireless 988 charge; fund the 988 crisis hotline; work with third parties to provide crisis outreach, stabilization, and acute care; authorize and issue revenue bonds payable from the newly created 988 Crisis Hotline Cash Fund; and adopt, amend, or repeal policies to regulate its affairs.
The enterprise is governed by a board of directors appointed by the Governor. Learn more about the 988 Crisis Hotline Enterprise Board of Directors.
988 Implementation Planning Committee Archives
Expand the sections below for archives of the Colorado 988 Implementation Planning Committee's meetings and work.
- Committee Members
Kelly Bowman Health Colorado, Inc. Daryl Branson Public Utilities Commission Sarah Brummet Office of Suicide Prevention, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Judy Campbell Professional with Lived Experience Krista Cavataio Rocky Mountain Health Plans Jennifer Conrad Signal Behavioral Health Network Lila Cummings Colorado Hospital Association Andrew Dameron Denver 911 Melissa Eddleman Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing Kate Fitch Public Health Professional with Lived Experience Doyle Forrestal Colorado Behavioral Health Council Christine Harms Schools Safety Resource Center Hope Hyatt Colorado Mental Wellness Network Moe Keller Mental Health Colorado Abe Laydon Commissioner, Douglas County Elizabeth Richards Beacon Health Options Cheri Skelding Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners Scott Snow Denver Police Department Mandy Stollsteimer WestCO PSAP Ana Vizoso Servicios de La Raza Anthony Young Association of Black Psychologists
- Work Groups
Promotion, Awareness and Education, and Accessibility
Consistency in public messaging is critical at the national and state/territory level regarding 988, its distinction from 911 and the range of services 988 provides. Colorado must lay out a framework for how 988 will be marketed within the state. Colorado should ensure messaging is consistent with national / federal messaging about the range of services 988 is intended to provide. Marketing should convey messages of help, hope and healing; should promote the voices of persons with lived experiences with mental illness and suicide, and should include specific strategies for reaching LGBTQ youth and other populations considered high risk for suicide. All messaging should adhere to all standards for Safe and Effective suicide prevention communication.
Funding & Sustainability
Colorado must provide strategies for identifying and supporting funding streams which boost the financial stability of the call center(s) answering Lifeline calls. Colorado will decide how to actualize a strategy to sustainably fund the Lifeline member call center(s) answering 988 calls, texts and chats and follow-up services. Funding strategies may be diversified including, but not limited to:
- The potential to raise 988 related fees from telecommunication users (similar to how many states fund 911 calls)
- Medicaid reimbursements
- Mental health block grant funds
- Direct engagement with state legislative budget committees for 988 specific funding,
- Partnerships with stakeholder groups who may have the ability to contribute to 988 resources (e.g. United Way/211, private insurers, hospitals, philanthropic organizations)
Call Center and System Capacity and Integration Capacity building at the center answering 988 contacts must occur based on call, chat, text and follow-up volume growth projections. However, current call volume and capacity challenges must be addressed before 988 is nationally implemented on July 16, 2022. In partnership with the Lifeline, Colorado shall ensure that the Lifeline member center has the systems in place to maintain local resource and referral listings, as well as assure linkages to local community crisis services (including 911 PSAPs, mobile crisis teams and other outreach alternatives to law enforcement/EMS response).
FCC Designates 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (July 16, 2020)
988 Geolocation Report — National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020. Wireline Competition Bureau. (April 15, 2021)
Press Release: CDHS Statement on 988 (October 22. 2021) Concerning new 10-digit dialing requirement for Colorado.
FCC Approves Text-to-988 Access to Suicide Prevention Lifeline (November 18, 2021)