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Youth’s Mental Health

Youth’s Mental Health crises and Suicide Prevention

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Highlights:

  • Lack of beds left with no option for youth but to attempt suicide
  • Polis passed the bill to provide three free mental health care services to youth in need
  • Impact of COVID on mental health
  • It’s going to take a village

Soon after a month of Children’s Hospital Colorado petition on young people seeking mental health help, a new law has been issued by Gov. Jared Polis that will connect people to services and provide them with three free sessions with a mental health care provider.

Free Sessions for Youth

youth Health crises

Polis approved the legislation, HB1258, on Friday at a bill signing at Children’s Hospital in Aurora. The legislation approved $9 million in order to create a temporary youth mental health services program in the Office of Behavioral Health in the state’s Department of Human Services. This program will help providers with “up to three mental health sessions to youth screened into the program,” according to the bill issued.

Lawmakers expect the money will serve up to 25,537 children in Colorado, and funding will also help in public awareness campaign. Children’s Hospital recently declared a “state of emergency” for pediatric mental health, after seeing a rise in suicide attempts and other mental health issues among young people.

Impact of COVID on Mental Health

Youth’s Mental Health

Rep. Janet Bucker, a cosponsor of the bill, said that many of the emails she received during the pandemic were from people concerned about the mental health of their children. The announcement from Children’s Hospital heightened the importance of getting the legislation passed, she said.

“Many children have been impacted by COVID in ways that are going to have lasting scars if we don’t address them soon,” Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, the bill’s primary sponsor, said at the signing Friday.

She asked people to help get the word out about the free mental health visits. The law requires the department of human services to partner with a vendor to create the program no later than July 1.

“It’s going to take a village”

Youth’s Mental Health

Katia Morquecho, who works for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as a youth advisor, testified in support of the bill at the legislature and spoke at the signing. The issue is personal to her because she lost a friend to suicide in March, “It’s a hard thing for us to talk about suicide but it needs to happen,” she said.

Omar Montgomery, president of Aurora’s NAACP, told the Sentinel that he’s glad the state is putting more resources into emergency youth services.

Many community organizations on the ground in Aurora have already been working with youth who are struggling, he said, and he hopes that the state will work with groups that are on the front lines of the situation.

“It’s going to take a village,” he said.

TEM

TEM

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