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Knowing where (and when) to seek out mental health support is important, whether you’re concerned about yourself or a friend. Here are some guidelines you can use to determine if you should seek emergency support, crisis support or general support for mental health concerns.

When to seek emergency mental health support

If you or someone you know is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911, CU Boulder Police (303-492-6666) or go to your nearest emergency department. It’s important to know that calling the police will not get a student into any kind of trouble. In fact, it is the quickest way to access support in an emergency situation.

Emergencies can include when an individual:

  • Has disappeared, is likely to harm themselves or others, or is threatening, talking about or making specific plans to commit suicide
  • Is experiencing excessive substance use, may be at risk of overdosing or is engaging in high risk or unlawful behaviors (e.g. driving under the influence)
  • Requires immediate attention or intervention from mental health or healthcare professionals
  • Is unable to care for themselves and cannot resolve the situation with the skills or resources available to them

When calling for emergency assistance, be prepared to provide accurate information so that first responders can effectively intervene and support the person in need. Operators may ask you for details about the person you’re calling about, including their name, address, description, mental health history, substance use history, if they own any weapons and descriptions of the behaviors that are concerning you. 

CU Boulder Police response team

CU Boulder Police have teamed up with Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) to better address calls related to mental health crises and traumatic events.

Learn more about the CUPD collaboration with CAPS   Learn more about the CUPD collaboration with OVA

When to seek urgent mental health support

Crises can be distressing. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or needs urgent, same-day support, Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) is here to support you 24/7. Give their office a call at 303-492-2277. Calling ahead allows providers to triage your concerns, so they can address them more quickly and effectively.

Mental health crises can include when an individual:

  • Has thoughts of suicide or are not sure how to keep themselves safe
  • Has thoughts of doing serious harm to someone and may act on them
  • Believes their life may be in danger
  • Hears voices or sees things that no one else can hear or see
  • Has just been discharged from a psychiatric hospital
  • Has recently been physically or sexually assaulted
  • Has recently experienced an overwhelming loss or trauma
  • Believes their alcohol or drug use is out of control
  • Believes their eating/not eating is out of control

CAPS providers can work with you to address your immediate concerns and connect you with additional resources to keep you safe. Additional support services are available locally, regionally and nationally.

Welfare checks

Welfare checks can be instituted by any police department if you’re concerned about the health, safety or welfare of someone. Be prepared to give the exact address (residence hall and room number if on campus) as well as the reason for your concerns.

  • On campus: CUPD 303-492-6666
  • Off campus: Boulder Police 303-441-3333

Student Support and Case Management (SSCM)

SSCM is here to help students identify issues and appropriate resources. They also work collaboratively with students to develop an action plan. This is a great option for those who would like someone to reach out to another student or friend directly for support.

Colorado Crisis Services

Colorado Crisis Services is the statewide behavioral health crisis response system offering residents mental health, substance use or emotional crisis help, information and referrals. They are available 24/7 by phone and text. 

  • Call: 1-844-483-8255
  • Text: “TALK” to 38255

Mental Health Partners Crisis Center

The Mental Health Partners Crisis Center is available to those in need of direct services or those seeking to help engage another person in services, whether the crisis is substance-use related, or psychiatric or both. They are available for drop-ins at their Boulder location.

  • Address: 3180 Airport Rd, Boulder, CO 80301

Trevor Project (LGBTQ+)

The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ+) young people. They provide 24/7 crisis counseling via phone, text and chat.

  • Call: 1-866-488-7386
  • Text: ‘START’ to 678678
  • Chat: Chat online

Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line provides free, high-quality text-based mental health support and crisis intervention by empowering a community of trained volunteers to support people in their moments of need. They are available 24/7 by text or WhatsApp.

When to seek general mental health support

Asking for help can be hard, especially if we’re not entirely sure we need it. While some mental health concerns may be obvious, others can be harder to distinguish. For instance, believing that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed during college may prevent some people from seeking support if it’s related to stress.
Remember that everyone struggles sometimes, and you don’t have to go it alone. Here are some examples of times when it may be a good idea to seek support or connect with resources on campus.

General mental health support can be a great option if someone is:

  • Having difficulty managing stress, worry or anxious thoughts
  • Feeling down, lonely, sad or hopeless
  • Feeling overwhelmed by life’s demands (e.g. school, work, relationships, etc.)
  • Looking to develop healthier coping skills or relationships
  • Experiencing negative impacts from substance use
  • Experiencing relationship difficulties (e.g. making or keeping relationships)
  • Unsure how to make meaningful changes or address issues on their own

If you are struggling with any of the mental health concerns listed above, be sure to check out the following resources for support. 

Let's Talk

  • Let’s Talk allows students to check in for an informal and confidential consultation with a counselor.
  • Let’s Talk Psychiatry is for students who are currently not taking medications to manage their mental health but would like to obtain general information about medications or psychiatric care.


CAPS provides weekly workshops that can help students develop healthy coping skills related to stress, anxiety and other painful or distressing emotions. All workshops are covered by the mental health fee. Join virtually by signing up online at MyCUHealth

Thriving Campus

If you are looking to connect with a local provider in your area, Thriving Campus can help you connect with a variety of providers based on specialization, needs and insurance. 

Office of Victim Assistance (OVA)

OVA provides free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy and short-term counseling services for students, grad students, faculty and staff who have experienced a traumatic, disturbing or life-disruptive event.

Peer Wellness Coaching

Peer Wellness Coaching is a free service available to students to help them set and achieve wellness goals. Peer wellness coaches are familiar with a variety of topics, including stress, relationships, academics, self-care, sleep, finances and more.

Health Promotion

Health Promotion offers free weekly programs that focus on self-care, community-building, stress management and more. Topic areas change weekly and events are open to all students.