Free Colorado Child and Youth Mental Health Program Launched in English / Spanish
DENVER (KDVR) – Colorado has launched a new program to help young people struggling with mental health crises.
Anyone 18 and under – or 21 and under, if receiving special education services – can sign up for three free mental health sessions.
The program, which launched on Wednesday, removes one of the biggest barriers to seeking professional help: cost.
The program, called “I Matter”, has already attracted more than 100 people. Liz Owens, of the state’s Behavioral Health Bureau, said she was unaware of any other program like this in the United States, where services are free for all young people.
“I’ve even received requests from other states like, ‘How do we get this in my state?’ ”Owens said.
Colorado lawmakers passed a bill this year to create the program, and $ 9 million will fund it until the summer of 2022.
How to Sign Up for a Free Colorado Child and Youth Mental Health Program
The program comes amid an uproar to tackle mental health issues in children and teens.
Parents and teens can visit the I Matter site, where they will be asked to complete a survey. Then, the student is paired with an advisor, followed but scheduled for three free sessions, most of which will be online.
The state will launch a Spanish version in the coming weeks and already has registered Spanish-speaking clinicians.
Children’s Hospital Colorado released this statement on the state of the crisis and this new program:
We clearly see at the Colorado Children’s Hospital the disastrous downstream effects of an already broken pediatric mental health system that has been further strained by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of emergency for children’s mental health that we declared in May is sadly far from over. The Colorado Children’s Hospital inpatient psychiatric unit has been full for over a year and our emergency departments, inpatient medical units and intensive care units continue to admit many patients with suicidal thoughts. From January to mid-October 2021, across our pediatric system, 70% more children came to our emergency departments due to a mental health crisis, compared to the same time before the pandemic in 2019.
Since the state’s declaration in May, the Colorado Children’s Hospital has worked with bipartisan local, state and federal lawmakers, as well as school partners, primary care providers, families and advocates, to identify financing and policy solutions to meet immediate and long-term needs. .
State lawmakers are currently reviewing many policy and funding proposals that would help address the challenges and redesign Colorado’s mental health system. We thank State Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Governor Jared Polis and many others for their leadership in launching the “I Matter Campaign” and for continuing to seek additional solutions that may actualize the creation of a functioning mental health care system for children and families.
Colorado Children’s Hospital
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