Nearly a month after Children’s Hospital Colorado sounded alarms on the number of young people seeking mental health help, a new law has been signed by Gov. Jared Polis that will connect young people to services and provide them with up to three free sessions with a mental health care provider.
Polis formally approved the legislation, HB1258, on Friday at a bill signing at Children’s Hospital in Aurora. The legislation provides $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. The program will reimburse providers for “up to three mental health sessions to youth screened into the program,” according to the bill’s fiscal note.
Lawmakers expect the money will serve up to 25,537 children in Colorado. The allocation will also fund a public awareness campaign.
Children’s Hospital recently declared a “state of emergency” for pediatric mental health, saying it was seeing an alarming rise in suicide attempts and other mental health issues among young people.