Suicide is a public health issue in Colorado. This project addresses a critical need in our systems of care: follow up services.
Colorado’s Hospital Follow-Up Project is a collaboration between CDPHE’s Office of Suicide Prevention, Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners, CDHS’ Office of Behavioral Health and health systems across the state. Supported by grant funding from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Follow Up Project seeks to close gaps in care and support people who are transitioning out of hospital care.
What are Follow Up services?
Follow up services are telephonic caring contacts offered to clients discharging from an emergency department after experiencing a mental health crisis or overdose event. These contacts typically occur weekly for 30 days, a high risk time period post-discharge.
Why Follow Up services?
Individuals are at an increased risk for suicide and suicide attempt:
22% increase within the first 30 days post discharge
40% increase within the first year post discharge
Research indicates that follow up services for individuals recently discharged from the ED has positive results for both consumers and providers of mental health services. Telephonic follow up has been shown to improve client outcomes, reduce the likelihood of reattempt, and increase the connection with helping resources post-discharge. Follow up protocols have also been shown to reduce the need for future hospitalizations by reducing barriers to accessing services in a timelier manner. Additionally, follow up has been shown to be cost effective and prevent suicides.
This service is a key element in the continuum of care for clients experiencing suicidality.
Research supporting Follow Up:
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: Transforming Health Systems Initiative Work Group.(2018). Recommended standard care for people with suicide risk: Making health care suicide safe. Washington, DC:Education Development Center, Inc
The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety 2019; 45:725–732
How it Works
The Follow-Up Project model involves hospital staff screening people who are preparing to leave an inpatient or emergency department for suicide risk, referring them to and encouraging them to participate in the program, and conducting a “warm handoff” to hotline clinicians over the phone. Once hotline staff have an individual’s consent and contact information, they will reach out to them multiple times within the first 24 to 48 hours after discharge, and then on a regular basis (typically weekly) for a month or longer as needed.
Follow Up Specialists offer support through safety assessment, harm reduction, resource linkage and collaborative goal setting. Services are caring, non-demand, and accessible 24/7/365.
Who provides follow up?
Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners comes equipped with multiple kinds of follow up specialists, ensuring that your clients are placed into trained, caring hands. Follow Up Specialists have varying areas of expertise, such as clinical based support, peer based support, clinical opiate specific support, and veteran peer support.
All specialists have graduated with a Bachelors or Masters. In addition, they complete 4 weeks of crisis training targeting suicidal ideation, self-harm, and substance use. Specialists also undergo ongoing training throughout their tenure at Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners.
Facility eligibility: All Colorado Emergency Departments are eligible to participate!
Client eligibility: The Follow-Up Project was initially designed to serve clients experiencing suicidality. However, with additional funding, client eligibility has been increased to include anyone struggling with:
Suicidal behavior or attempts
Overdoses, regardless of intent