Accessing help during a behavioral health crisis

Do you know whom to call if you or someone you know is experiencing a behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) crisis? If you or someone you know is overwhelmed with life’s challenges? If you or someone you know needs to talk to a professional late at night or on weekends? If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or homicidal?

Although it is estimated that 3 in 5 Coloradans are in need of Behavioral Health Care (more than 1.5 million people), less than one third of those actually receive adequate care.

Also, Colorado is consistently among the ten states with the highest suicide rates, with suicide being the 7th leading cause of death in Colorado.

Among youth and young adults, the data is even more dismal, with suicide being the leading cause of death for individuals ages 10-34. Native teens experience the highest rate of suicide in any population group in the United States.

The positive side of the picture: Treatment works!

We just need to figure out how to help people get the treatment they need in a timely and efficient manner. It is time to help people get rid of the stigma of seeking behavioral health treatment and understand that behavioral health is an important to overall health. Just as being physically ill can affect our mood, being depressed or anxious can also affect our physical health and make it difficult for us to take good care of ourselves.

Other good news: There are now more services available for people living in Southwestern Colorado, residents and non-residents – including Ignacio, Bayfield, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

The state of Colorado recently funded four Colorado organizations to revamp the Behavioral Health Crisis Response System with a “No wrong door” approach. These services are in addition to behavioral health services already offered by Southern Ute Health Center, Axis Health System, and other therapists in the community. Components include the following enhanced programming available to all people in Colorado, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of ability to pay:

  • 24 HOUR STATEWIDE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS HOTLINE AND WARM LINE – 1-844-493-TALK (8255) – This line is staffed with trained professionals and peer counselors 24/7, providing immediate, anonymous, and confidential telephone support to anyone in need of assistance, support, referrals, and/or information regarding a behavioral health crisis. The crisis hotline is available to anyone in Colorado and relies on a single toll-free telephone number. Some of the calls to the crisis hotline will be dispatched directly and seamlessly to local hotlines operated by the local mental health centers.


  • AXIS HEALTH SYSTEM CRISIS SERVICES- (970) 247-5245 – Axis Health System is a local agency that provides 24/7 crisis services. Call their crisis hotline to get immediate support by trained mental health professionals, get questions answered about local resources and services that are available, or to request additional help. Staff will assess for needs and make arrangements to meet those needs. They will work with the individual, family, or agency to stabilize the crisis situation and will also assist with accessing other needed services and supports such as: insurance benefits, other benefit and assistance programs, psychiatric hospitalization, substance abuse treatment, services related to intellectual or developmental disabilities, physical and medical services, peer and family services, and natural supports.

Crisis staff may also connect people with other new programs being funded by the State of Colorado: a crisis stabilization unit, or crisis residential services, all based outside of our local area but available for all residents in Southwest Colorado.

Crisis services can be accessed by calling the 24/7 statewide number (1-844-493-8255) or by calling the local crisis response number at Axis Health System: (970) 247-5245.

For more information about behavioral health and crisis services, you can contact Dr. Mary Trujillo Young at Southern Ute Health Center, 970-563-4581 or Dr. Stephanie Allred at Axis Health System 970-335-2223.

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