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SB23-004 would aid the youth mental health crisis by allowing licensed mental health professionals to work in schools

A bill sponsored by Senator Janice Marchman, D-Loveland, and Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont, created to increase mental health professionals in schools passed the Colorado Senate today.

Under current law, a mental health professional must be licensed by the Department of Education in order to work in a school – a process that has proven time-consuming and complex. SB23-004 would allow school districts to employ mental health professionals who hold a Colorado license but don’t have a license from the Department of Education, streamlining the hiring process and expanding access to mental health resources in schools.

“Schools are an essential part of supporting the health and well-being of our students,” said Marchman. “By allowing qualified school-based therapists to work alongside our mental health special service providers in schools, we can improve access to mental health resources and ensure that students in crisis can get the help they need.”

“The youth mental health crisis was prevalent before the pandemic, and has only grown in recent years, “said Jaquez Lewis. “In order to best help our students, we need to expand access to mental health professionals in schools. This bill will make it easier for kids to seek care in a place they feel comfortable and safe.”

In 2021, Children’s Hospital Colorado declared a youth mental health emergency, and the following year stated that conditions had worsened. Furthermore, in 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a survey showing that 44 percent of high school students reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless during the past year.

SB23-004 now heads to the House of Representatives. Readers can follow the bill’s progress HERE.