May 2, 2019
Denver, CO – The Colorado State Senate today voted 21-to-14 to pass HB19-1120, Youth Mental Health Education and Suicide Prevention, a bill sponsored by Majority Leader Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) to make mental health treatment and counseling more accessible to young Coloradans. The bill now heads back to the House for concurrence and then on to the Governor.
“Suicide is the leading cause of death for Colorado youth,” said Majority Leader Fenberg. “We have a mental health crisis on our hands, and we must do more to help young people who are struggling with mental illness get the support they need.”
Colorado ranks as the nation’s 6th highest in suicides, according to the Colorado Health Institute. HB19-1120 will help lower the state’s suicide rate by allowing minors 12 years or older seek mental health services with or without the consent of their parents.This bill is modeled after one enacted in NY state which has proven to be effective in decreasing suicides. The psychotherapy would be confidential unless the minor gives their mental health professional permission to consult their parents, or if the professional does not believe the minor can manage their care themselves or are having suicidal thoughts.
“This bill is an effort to make it easier and more comfortable for young people to address mental health issues before they feel like they are out of options. Fostering a healthy discussion on mental health from a young age will help remove the stigma of mental illness and offer support to children who suffer from suicidal thoughts,” added Majority Leader Fenberg.
The bill also requires the Department of Education to create a mental health education literacy resource bank that is available to the public for free. The board of education will be required to adopt standards related to mental health, including suicide prevention, to improve mental health awareness in Colorado schools.
For more information on HB19-1120, please visit https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1120.