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The Student News Site of Frederick High School

Frederick Lantern

The Student News Site of Frederick High School

Frederick Lantern

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If You Need Help, Remember I Matter

Colorado’s I Matter program, which gives teens free therapy, is facing budget cuts by the state
I+Matter+is+all+about+embracing+your+true+self+and+being+who+you+really+want+to+be.+
IMatter Program
I Matter is all about embracing your true self and being who you really want to be.

One of Colorado’s most important mental health programs might soon disappear. I Matter, a youth resource program providing mental health services to teens across the state, will run out of funding by July, and without help from Colorado legislators, the program will end.

I Matter connects Colorado teens to mental health resources and even provides them with up to six free therapy sessions. While parents can use I Matter to arrange these appointments for their child, teens can access I Matter’s resources without parent consent or notice since some parents stigmatize mental health and therapy, and the Colorado lawmakers who put I Matter in place did so with the belief that access to mental health treatment is the right of every child in Colorado.

To this end, the I Matter program has been designed around accessibility. Unless a special request is made, all therapy is done through telehealth video chats with a licensed therapist, allowing teens in even the most rural communities of Colorado access to mental health services. I Matter will help any teen in Colorado regardless of their documented status, and the site has a Spanish portal to connect Spanish-speaking youth to Spanish-speaking therapists. 

I Matter also considers speed as an important piece of accessibility. Typically, a teen who requests an I Matter therapy session will be connected to one of the 150 licensed therapists who work with the program in under two weeks, though most of the time, they can get a therapy session within a day of making their request.

The Colorado Behavioral Health Administration created the program in 2021 to help address the high rates of teen suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I Matter stuck around, helping nearly 8,000 teens in Colorado. However, like many other COVID programs, I Matter may soon end.

Colorado House Bill 21-1258 originally established I Matter in 2021 to provide access to mental health services for youth during the pandemic. The original termination date for I Matter was June 30, 2023, but the Colorado General Assembly voted to extend funding for the program for another year. The current funding ends on June 30, and without a major influx of money, so will I Matter. The program costs Colorado $11 million annually.

The best shot I Matter has is SB24-001, the first bill proposed in this year’s legislative session. SB24-001 would not just extend I Matter’s funding but would make the funding allotment permanent. Proponents have argued that the I Matter program is a vital weapon in Colorado’s arsenal against its high teen suicide rates while opponents believe that the program’s availability without parental consent infringes on parental rights.

The third vote on the bill was held on March 15 and passed with a 25-6 majority, which is a promising sign for the I Matter program. Despite some opponents, the bill has a lot of bipartisan support. Frederick’s Senate representative Barbara Kirkmeyer voted yes on the bill, though she has voted no on the bill in the past. The legislation is predicted to pass the Senate in late April, where it will then move onto the Senate. Governor Polis has indicated that, if passed, he would sign the bill into law.

 

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About the Contributor
Emma Phillips, Sports Editor
Emma Phillips is a senior who has been on the Lantern staff for two years. Emma enjoys covering sports and writing reviews. She is a member of Quill and Scroll and plays on the women’s soccer team for Frederick. After graduation, Emma plans to play soccer at Hastings College.

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