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June 18, 2021


Bill signed into law today provide three free mental health session for Colorado youth, improve 2-1-1 human services hotline

DENVER, CO -– Governor Polis today signed two bills into law that will provide three free mental health sessions to Colorado youth and include behavioral health referrals as part of the states 2-1-1 human services hotline.

“We’ve heard from parents and students in every community that they need better access to mental health care,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “Thanks to this new law, any school aged person will be able to get three free mental health sessions. We have to put students first as we recover from this pandemic and build back stronger, and that’s what we’ve done by creating this program and directly addressing the mental health needs of our students.”

HB21-1258, sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Kevin Van Winkle, would create a temporary youth mental health services program in the Office of Behavioral Health within the Department of Human Services to facilitate access to mental health services for identified needs, including those that may have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program would provide any young person age 18 and under with an online mental health screening and would then reimburse providers for up to three mental health sessions. This support is intended to prepare children for the return to in-person learning and a review of stress management tools, and to make a plan for ongoing treatment when necessary. We estimate that this program can support up to 25,537 children.

“Colorado’s 2-1-1 Human Services Referral System connects people with critical services, and now it will also be a resource for Coloradans who are struggling to access behavioral health care,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “To build back stronger and recover, we have to ensure that everyone in our state can access the mental health care and support they need to heal and thrive.”

“People who don’t have health insurance or who are unemployed face some of the toughest obstacles to obtaining mental health care,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley. “The bill Governor Polis signed today will boost funding for the 2-1-1 hotline and expand it to include behavioral health care referrals, providing more Coloradans access to mental health providers and the services they need.”

SB21-239, sponsored by Representatives Judy Amabile and Mary Young, would improve the 2-1-1 Statewide Human Services Referral System. The bill appropriates $1 million to expand referral services authorized by the Colorado 2-1-1 collaborative to include referrals for behavioral health services and other resources in the state. By doing so, the 2-1-1 hotline will be able to connect more Coloradans with the mental health services they need. The bill additionally focuses on connecting Coloradans who are unemployed or who do not have health benefits to mental and behavioral health services.

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