Problem Solvers Guide: The top 4 new mental health laws in Colorado

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DENVER -- It has been one week since the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting and again, Colorado and the nation are asking: What more can be done to address mental health?

The Problem Solvers, in conjunction with Mental Health Colorado, have identified more than 40 new mental health laws that will soon take effect in Colorado. The Problem Solvers have selected what will likely be the four most impactful:

IMPACTFUL CHANGE #1:

Requiring insurance companies to cover mental health the same as physical health

Moe Keller, an analyst with Mental Health Colorado, says this is a major change. While it has been federal law for several years, the new law will allow the state to penalize insurance companies that don't comply. For instance, they will not be allowed to increase rates if they are caught.

"This was probably the most substantive year in the legislature that I can recall on mental health in decades," Keller said. "So, if you were able to access an oncologist for six visits, you have to be able to access a mental health professional within your network for six visits."

IMPACTFUL CHANGE #2:

Allow 12-year-olds to seek mental health counseling on their own

Currently, 15-year-olds can seek care without parental notification. The law will expand this age range to 12-year-olds. Counselors are required to notify parents in certain circumstances.

IMPACTFUL CHANGE #3:

$3 million more in state funding to hire 50 new school counselors 

This will be a state grant program.

"The interest is so strong in all of the school districts, I know they will apply," Keller said.

IMPACTFUL CHANGE #4:

Pilot program to allow a school counselor in every grade K-5 in up to 10 schools 

This program is not fully funded yet, but private donations will offset what the state is not providing.

"If we can reach that age group, that's right at the tip -- 5th grade -- when they start thinking about and hearing about suicide," Keller said.

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