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Polis Signs Bill To Improve Children’s Mental Health

Today, Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) signed the “Continue Youth Mental Health Services Program” bill, which extends indefinitely a program that provides K-12 students with six free counseling sessions.

“Far too many Colorado kids struggle with their mental health, and I Matter has been hugely beneficial in helping support them,” said Sen. Lisa Cutter (D-CO). “By extending this successful program, we are doubling down on our commitment to addressing those needs, and ensuring that all of our kids get the mental health care they deserve, at no cost to them or their families.”

The counseling program, called “I Matter,” has over 150 licensed therapists who offer telehealth and in-person appointments. The telehealth appointments with a licensed therapist are available immediately or within two weeks. They also have a crisis hotline available for children as well through Colorado Crisis Services. 

“The success of I Matter has been huge for Colorado students, and for the first time in a decade, youth suicide rates have declined – but we must do more to address the mental health crisis gripping our kids,” said Sen. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-CO) in a press release. “That is why making the I Matter program permanent is so important. This critical tool is a game changer, and I am thrilled to see this bill get signed into law so we can ensure Colorado students can access the free mental health care they need to thrive.”

After a child has their six free counseling sessions, “I Matter” ensures that their providers are connected with Medicaid or their patient’s insurance. According to Rutinel, children’s mental health services should not be dependent upon their parents’ income and this program allows students the opportunity to have cost-effective therapy sessions.

“By extending the I Matter Program, we’re doubling down on our commitment to ensure our youth can receive the behavioral and mental health care they need,” said Rep. Manny Rutinel (D-Adams). “No-cost therapy breaks down access barriers for youth and their families. Since its introduction, the I Matter Program has provided more than 50,000 essential therapy sessions – this law continues this successful, important program to ensure we’re addressing the needs of our youth.”

According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNCIEF), “more than 1 in 7 adolescents from the ages of 10 to 19 lives with a mental health condition and here in the United States.” 

“With the signing of this bill, we’re ensuring our youth can continue to have access to no-cost therapy when they need it through the landmark I Matter Program,” said Rep. Kyle Brown (D-12). “Over the years, the I Matter Program has connected over 11,000 kids to therapeutic services for anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and other mental health challenges. Programs like I Matter remove barriers to access and help our youth receive the behavioral and mental care they need.” 

About 36,000 I Matter appointments scheduled since its founding in 2021 and 8,000 children have attended more than one help session, according to the program.

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