Colorado State University launches mental health co-responder program through CSU Police Department

CSUPD badgeIn response to the needs of the University community, the Colorado State University Police Department and the Health Network are partnering with UCHealth to bring a co-responder mental health program to support CSUPD on calls.

CSU is among the first universities to launch such a program. This academic year will serve as a pilot for the Community Support Program; and this fall, the team of collaborators will seek input from key offices across the University to ensure that program is designed to meet the needs of all University community members.

“We are extremely proud to provide this support to our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” said Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt, interim executive director of campus safety and security.

“Approximately a third of our 3,000 annual officer interactions indicate some nexus to mental health. Implementing the pairing of two professional services is clearly an important next step. While we serve visitors, students and employees, much of our time goes toward supporting and helping young adults who are struggling and on their own for the first time, away from their families and friends, at an age when mental health challenges often first emerge. We are entrusted with their well-being, and it is our privilege to partner with professionals who can help us connect them to immediate and ongoing care.”

Modeled after the already successful Fort Collins Police Services and UCHealth CORE Team partnership, which began in 2018, the program will specifically focus on:

  • Connecting students, employees and guests in crisis with immediate support and a long-term plan of care following the crisis
  • Diverting and redirecting individuals from emergency rooms and the traditional criminal justice system, when appropriate
  • Increasing the safety of everyone at the scene and the safety of those helping to address mental health concerns across the University
  • Connecting students, faculty, staff and visitors to follow up care available through CSU and the community
  • Continuing to strengthen collaboration between CSUPD and mental health professionals at CSU and in the community

The Community Support Program will launch later this fall after a behavioral health provider – who will be embedded with a team of officers – is hired. A search for the mental health provider position recently opened.

CSU police officers already work closely with mental health providers to ensure students get support through the CSU Health Network, which serves fee-paying students by connecting them with a wide array of services that meet their needs.

“Individuals who are experiencing a behavioral or mental health crisis need specialized support to help them through a time when they may be making choices that they wouldn’t normally make if they were at their best. Almost always, things get better, but it can be difficult to see that in the midst of a crisis. Our CSUPD officers are already working to help these individuals, and by providing a co-responder with mental health training, we can make that initial interaction even more supportive and beneficial,” said Lisa Miller, director of Specialty Counseling Services at the CSU Health Network. “We’re thrilled to ink a plan that further solidifies our partnership with CSUPD in support of our students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

Program leaders will work closely with key University offices and community members throughout the pilot year to ensure a continuing program aligns with student, faculty, staff and guest needs.

“UCHealth is proud to partner with CSU, one of the first higher education institutions in the nation to implement a co-responder program. This collaboration marks an important milestone for the behavioral health well-being for Colorado State University’s community,” Stephanie Booco, UCHealth co-responder program supervisor.