Hundreds of El Paso County and Colorado kids utilizing free therapy program six months after launching

I Matter
I Matter(I Matter Colorado)
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 4:11 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Hundreds of El Paso County and Colorado kids are utilizing the state’s free therapy program since the program launched six months ago.

11 News checked in with behavioral health officials about the program I Matter, which provides free online therapy for youth 18 or younger, or 21 or younger if receiving special education. Kids over 12 years old can consent to getting their own help.

11 News first covered this story a year ago when lawmakers were trying to give affordable mental health care to youth. When launched in October, I Matter provided three, free therapy sessions for Colorado kids. But, in recent weeks, thanks to more funding, that was upped to six.

“Now we’re able to address another concern, which was the three sessions might not be enough time to develop a relationship with a therapist. By being able to provide six or more sessions, we really feel like we’re able to have a stronger impact,” said Liz Owens of the Office of Behavioral Health.

According to OBH, more than 1,600 kids have done at least one session, more than 1,000 of those kids came back for a second session, and more than 600 came back for three or more sessions.

“Colorado has historically always had a fairly high youth suicide rate, and then adding the pandemic on top of that. So, it’s really important that we are able to provide youth with that immediate access to care and what is hopefully a lasting relationship or a lifetime relationship with taking care of and prioritizing their mental health,” said Owens.

The Children’s Hospital Colorado declared children’s mental health in a “state of emergency” in spring 2021 after challenges facing kids have reached crisis level. Children’s Colorado saw twice as many patients reporting increased anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation and more.

In El Paso County, more than 200 youth have participated in the program so far. Colorado is believed to be the only state with a program like this.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, do not delay. Call 911 or contact the following organizations for immediate support and counseling for yourself or a loved one. Calls are free, confidential and available 24/7.

  • Contact the Colorado Crisis Line by calling 1-844-493-8255 or texting “TALK” to 38255.
  • If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
  • If you need help with drugs, alcohol or addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357 (HELP).

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