Our kids need more mental health resources and it’s up to the adults to make it happen.
When we launched the Health Huddle in September 2019, we knew there was a significant need for mental health support in the state. What we didn’t know is that less than a year later our kids would have their worlds completely turned upside down by a global pandemic.
Now, after more than a year of social isolation, we need to make mental health a priority and these three bills are a great place to start.
- HB 21-1258: Rapid Mental Health Response For Colorado Youth. Establish a temporary program that allows up to three free mental health sessions for every Coloradan age 18 and younger and providers would be reimbursed through the program.
Why is this important? Our youth have braved the last 13 months with virtual school, no extracurricular activities, no in-person interactions with friends or extended family and uncertainty about what the future holds. If you think back to your time in elementary, middle or high school, imagine having an entire year completely upended by a global pandemic. High school juniors last year missed spring sports and clubs, prom, graduation events for friends, a normal start to their senior year, a second year without prom, limited sports this year and maybe graduation for themselves depending on the school’s decision. That’s a lot to pack into a year that these kids will never get back. Offering a program that allows up to three mental health sessions for anyone under 18 will help so many of our youth who have had to navigate through an unimaginable year.
- HB21-1068: Insurance Coverage Mental Health Wellness Exam. Requires that health plans cover annual mental health wellness exams, performed by qualified mental health care providers, comparable to the coverage for an annual physical wellness exam.
Why is this important? It is recommended that we get an annual physical exam with our primary care physician, but why shouldn’t we also have a mental health exam every year? After the year we’ve all been through, a yearly mental health screening should be included on insurance plans the same way that physical exams are covered.
- SB21-154: 988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network. The proposed bill would enact federal legislation establishing the 9-8-8 crisis response number and creates a sustainable funding option for receiving and responding to those calls in the community.
Why is this important? Everyone knows to call 911 when there is an emergency, but if you’re dealing with a mental health emergency you have to call a 1-800 number right now. People in the middle of a mental health crisis shouldn’t have to dial 11 digits to connect with an expert. Having a three-digit number to call is not only easy to remember, but easy to use in the middle of a crisis.
As these move through the legislature we’ll have updates on how you can show your support. For now, you can call your local representative to get them to support each of these bills so we can provide necessary mental health support to our greatest assets, our youth.
Photo by Matthew Ball on Unsplash