Kiosk connects those in crisis with counselor

Home in Golden’s new drop-in telehealth aims to reduce access barriers

Deborah Grigsby
dgrigsby@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/26/22

Thanks to a unique partnership with Jefferson Center, Home in Golden is pleased to offer immediate access to mental health crisis care through a new secure telehealth link located inside the First United Methodist Church.

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Kiosk connects those in crisis with counselor

Home in Golden’s new drop-in telehealth aims to reduce access barriers

Posted

Life can be stressful.

It can be even more stressful if you’re unhoused and there’s no one with whom to talk.

But now, thanks to a unique partnership with Jefferson Center, Home in Golden is pleased to offer immediate access to mental health crisis care through a new secure telehealth link located inside the First United Methodist Church.

“This partnership is important because the population we serve through the church and though HIG is a population that primarily lives unhoused,” said the church’s pastor Susan Otey. “Those who live unhoused can often have a lot of emotional struggles and challenges, so we want to make sure we can support them.”

No appointment is necessary, but services are limited to HIG’s regular hours, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

“Right now, it’s really hard to get a therapy appointment in this town,” said Otey. “But here, anybody in the community—anybody—can walk in and say, `I need to talk to somebody, and we can get them online with that person within 15 minutes.”

Once the individual is online, she said a professional counselor talks them through the immediate situation and will determine if there is a risk to either the individual or others.

If there is a risk, counselors then work with other local resources to ensure the individual in distress receives the care they need.

Jefferson Center Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President of Information Systems Brandon Ward says the new telehealth kiosk program is designed to support organizations like Home in Golden by helping them take care of those they serve.

He said people in need of counseling often get referral cards, which have a relatively low follow-through rate.

Ward added that access barriers are reduced by creating opportunities for mental health services where people gather for essential services, like food and shelter.

Jefferson Center has approximately 15-20 partner kiosks throughout Jefferson, Gilpin, and Clear Creek counties and has hopes, according to Ward, of a future smartphone app.

While a simple computer connection may not seem like much, it can be a lifeline.

Otey calls the kiosk and the service a safety net, particularly for the unhoused.

“If people lose their home in Golden, chances are they’re not living in Golden again,” she said. “There’s a huge lack of affordable, attainable housing in this community.”

A little over a year old, HIG emerged as a community outreach program to help those struggling during the pandemic.

Along with a community meal service, a shower truck, the program also provides coats and clothing to those in need.

“We serve people who live unsheltered with essentials,” Otey said. “And the biggest things we give out now are tents and sleeping bags—and we are desperately in need of new or used sleeping bags that go down to 20 degrees.”

Otey said that HIG gave away more than 50 sleeping bags to the community last year.

If you’d like to learn more about HIG or the telehealth counseling program, contact Pastor Susan Otey by phone at 303-279-3484. She can also be reached by email at homeingolden@gmail.com or at First United Methodist Church, 1500 Ford St., Golden, CO. Visitors are asked to enter through the door closest to 15th Street.

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