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HB23-1003 would allow school districts to offer mental health screenings in schools, continue I Matter program

Today the Senate approved Senator Lisa Cutter’s (D-Jefferson County), bill to support the mental wellbeing of Colorado’s students.

HB23-1003 would do two things: allow school districts to offer mental health screenings in schools to help determine the mental wellbeing of students and continue the successful “I Matter” program. The bill would permit public schools to participate in a voluntary mental health screening program for sixth through twelfth graders.

Local teens participate virtually in a youth summit and discussed issues surrounding mental health. Image by Brooke Gilmore.

“I’m proud that Colorado is a leader when it comes to providing accessible, affordable mental health care for our youth. But our kids are in crisis and we must do more,” said Cutter. “This bill will help identify issues early on so kids and families can get the support they need. I’m thrilled to champion additional mental health supports for Colorado’s youth.”

The school would be required to notify parents of the date and time that the mental health screening is scheduled, the purpose, and information about the mental health screener. Parents would have the option to opt their child out of participating, although students over 12-years-old could still decide for themselves whether to participate, due to existing Colorado law.

The I Matter Program was first created with the passage of HB21-1258, and expanded by HB22-1243. The program provides a mental health screening followed by six free therapy sessions to youth across the state. It is available virtually and in-person. Students use a screening tool through the program’s website to match them with licensed mental health professionals that best fit their needs, including bilingual services.

HB23-1003 now returns to the House for consideration of amendments to the bill (which passed there in its original form). Both the House and the Senate have packed schedules as the first legislative session of the 74th General Assembly comes to a crescendo at the stroke of Midnight Friday night. To follow the bills in process including readings and amendments, follow this link.