(May 6) – A bill to create a comprehensive mental health crisis response system throughout the state passed the House today by a vote of 44 to 21.

SB13-266, sponsored in the House by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada) and Dave Young (D-Greeley), directs the Department of Human Services to create a coordinated behavioral health crisis response system for people who are experiencing significant mental health crises.

Three in ten Coloradans are in need of behavioral health services and the economic downturn caused mental health services to be significantly cut. The economic recovery is continuing and the sponsors said the state now has the wherewithal to prioritize and re-invest in mental and behavioral health services.

“There are people sitting out there right now who need help that our mental health system is not able to provide,” said Rep. Kraft Tharp, who has worked in the mental health field for 20 years. “We need a strong, comprehensive, integrated crisis system that provides appropriate and timely care.”

Coloradans with the most complex behavioral health care needs often access services through multiple systems that can be ineffective, uncoordinated and more expensive.

“We are looking for a seamless system,” Rep. Young said. “We want to make sure people get the services they need, when they need them, and ensure we don’t have people falling through the cracks.”

This bill will create a 24-hour crisis telephone hotline, walk-in crisis services and crisis stabilization units, mobile crisis services, residential and respite crises services and a public information campaign.

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