Colorado Crisis Education and Response Network (CoCERN)

The Colorado Crisis Education and Response Network is a multi-agency, inclusive, organized, collaborative network for disaster behavioral health response.

Disaster behavioral health response is defined as all psychosocial activities which serve to support the individual, group, and community deal with the cognitive, emotional, and spiritual impacts of a disaster. This includes mental health, substance abuse assessment and referral, victim assistance, and spiritual or pastoral care interventions. When a behavioral health agency’s resources are depleted or overwhelmed, CoCERN members provide support and services to the requesting agency. They can also work with survivors, responders, responder families, and the general public.


When is disaster behavioral health most helpful?

Disaster behavioral health response is an important aspect of any emergency response. Interventions are deployed in a variety of settings including: 

  • Disaster assistance centers
  • Community or town meetings
  • Shelters
  • Schools
  • Family assistance centers 
  • Victim information centers
  • Hotlines and information lines
  • Damage assessment teams
  • Community re-entry programs
  • Joint information centers/system (JIC/JIS)
  • Points of Dispensing (POD)
  • Community trials

In each of these settings, behavioral health response helps to lower stress and increase the overall functioning of everyone involved in the disaster or emergency. This is key to mitigating drama and rumors, managing fear, educating on common stress reactions, and providing emotional and behavioral support using tools like Psychological First Aid.

How does CoCERN deploy?

CoCERN partners may be requested or invited to provide disaster behavioral health services following a local or community crisis, emergency, or disaster. Response invitation channels include emergency dispatch, local or state emergency management, schools, sheriff/police departments, district attorney offices, private businesses, local or state departments of public health, and other response agencies. 

CDPHE-OEPR can always be contacted to request disaster behavioral health services at 1-877-518-5608.

Why should your agency join CoCERN?

CoCERN provides strong guidance on the structure and mechanisms of disaster behavioral health response. This structure is specific to:

  • Coordination
  • Resource Management
  • Communications
  • Credentialing

These standards help support effective response and provide protection to individual agencies and organizations by setting the standard of care in Colorado.

CoCERN meetings provide an opportunity for collaboration. Network members share lessons from recent responses and exercises, spotlight different partners, and share resources. The meetings ensure that all agencies within the network know what to expect in the field from partnering responders. Meetings are held quarterly in August, November, February, and May at rotating locations throughout the state.

If you would like to attend a CoCERN meeting, please contact the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response for more information.