DENVER (KDVR) — State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet has introduced a proposal that would allow the state to use stimulus money to pay for free mental health services for children across Colorado. The proposal already has support from Gov. Jared Polis.
“We can dedicate some of this money, a nice chunk of it, to try to reach as many school age children as possible, help them do an online screening and then give them access to three mental health therapy sessions they don’t have to pay for,” Rep. Michaelson Jenet said.
If it’s approved by other lawmakers – the bill would end up costing around $9 million. All of the money would come from some of the stimulus funds that the state is using to recover from the pandemic.
Rep. Michaelson Jenet said she hopes kids will continue using other services after they use the sessions that the state provides. Dr. Ben Miller, the Chief Strategy Officer at Well Being Trust says resources like this can help kids now and in the future.
“We need to normalize mental health early on in a child’s life so they understand how foundational it is for their health,” Miller said.
Miller also believes the proposal could lead to more advancements in mental health care across Colorado as the state continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Legislation like this is not necessarily going to be the radical transformation needed for structural reform,” Miller said. “However, it does move in the right direction by acknowledging that mental health is a major issue, focusing on our kids, and allowing the state to step up and provide a leadership role to get more kids engaged in care.”
Lawmakers will hold a hearing on the bill next Tuesday.