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Colorado Launches Statewide Mental Health Crisis Hotline

DENVER (CBS4) - Robin Williams' suicide spotlighted depression this week. But many suffer silently every day.

To address that, Gov. John Hickenlooper's office on Tuesday announced the creation of a statewide mental health crisis hotline. Those seeking help can call 844-493-TALK (8255). It's in partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services and is open 24 hours a day.

Barbara Becker, the director of the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, answered questions for CBS4's Gloria Neal on Tuesday about depression.

How is depression different than the blues?

"In simple terms, we all get sad every now and then," Becker said. "We all have the blues. Depression is when it starts to impact our daily living. It may be we find ourselves sleeping too much. Or our eating habits are way out of kilter. Or we start doing high-risk behaviors or something along those lines. It really is where we're not taking joy in the things we once took joy in before. If you have it for more than two weeks, that's when you need to be starting to think about seeking treatment."

Can a chemical imbalance in the brain affect or cause depression?

"Depression is one of those spectrum disorders," she said. "There are some individuals where, yes, that is occurring in the brain. The chemicals are getting imbalanced. For some people, it's more situational and it's impossible for them to get past something in their lives and get back to enjoying their life. There are some very good treatments out there. It's more about getting folks into treatment and recognizing that they need it and getting the help."

What is the link between depression and suicide?

"It's estimated that approximately 90 percent of completed suicides have a mental health diagnosis and that mental health diagnosis is most prevalently depression. It's not that they want to die. They want to end the pain. We need to find other alternatives and get the people help. It is, in fact, very treatable," Becker said.

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