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Now Is The Time To Improve Youth Mental Health In Colorado

Colorado is in a state of crisis when it comes to mental health and suicide among our youth:

  • In 2017, suicide was the leading cause of death for children ages
    10-24.
  • Our state consistently ranks in the top 10 states with the highest suicide rates overall.
  • 31% of Colorado youth reported feeling sad for two or more weeks in the past twelve months.
  • 23% of children in the United States – 17.1 million – have or have had a psychiatric disorder. That is more than the total number of children with cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.
  • 50% of all psychiatric illness occurs before the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 24.
  • There is an average delay of 8-10 years between the onset of mental health symptoms and intervention.

Together, we have the power to make things better. We know that public policy decisions can dramatically change youth mental health outcomes for the better.

The policies that we are driving in the 2020 legislative session will enhance training and education of mental health in our schools, destigmatize mental health, and provide needed resources to our youth.

“I have battled with my mental health for most of my life. I knew mental health needed to be talked about, but I didn’t know how to start the conversation. Today, my voice is being heard, through Robbie’s Hope.”

Legislative Priorities

Senate Bill 20-001:  Expand Behavioral Health Training For K-12 Educators

The bill requires the department of education (department) to offer a train the trainer program (program) designed to improve school culture, promote youth behavioral and mental health, and prepare attendees to teach a youth behavioral and mental health training course. The department must make the program available to employees of a school district, charter school, or board of cooperative services (local education provider). A local education provider and its employees are not required to participate in the program. The department may enter into an agreement with an organization to provide the program. The department is required to annually evaluate the effectiveness of the program. The general assembly is required to annually appropriate up to $1 million for the program. The program is repealed June 30, 2024.

The program must include evidence-based instruction on, and prepare an attendee to teach a youth behavioral and mental health training course that includes, any of the following subjects:

  • Using trauma-informed approaches to improve overall school climate and culture;
  • Identifying behavioral and mental health challenges and substance use disorders;
  • Restorative practices for addressing youth behavioral and mental health challenges;
  • Improving youth social and emotional health;
  • Bullying prevention and intervention strategies;
  • Encouraging positive bystander behavior;
  • Best practices for providing assistance in noncrisis situations;
  • De-escalation of crisis situations; or
  • Identifying and accessing available behavioral and mental health resources and substance use disorder support services and treatment.

Senate Bill 20-014:  Excused Absences In Public Schools For Behavioral Health

One of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce the stigmas surrounding mental health is to start recognizing that mental health and physical health carry the same importance and impact on one’s being.

Current law requires school districts to adopt a written policy setting forth the school district’s attendance requirements. The bill requires the policy to include excused absences for behavioral health concerns.

House Bill 20-1005:  Enhance Safe2Tell

The bill requires the Safe2Tell program to:

  • Devise a process so that all calls and texts are received initially by a crisis operator and then non-crisis calls and texts are routed appropriately;
  • Align the process and procedures for tips received via all communication methods; and
  • Conduct an annual advertising campaign regarding awareness, use, and misuse of Safe2Tell.

The bill allows the attorney general to disclose to law enforcement personnel any materials or information obtained through the implementation or operation of the program if the attorney general reasonably deems such disclosure necessary for the prevention of imminent physical harm or serious bodily injury to one or more persons.