House Committee Approves Legislation to Establish I Matter Youth Mental Health Program as Permanent

Breaking Barriers: The Colorado Legislature Makes I Matter Program Permanent

In Denver, CO, the House Health & Human Services Committee has passed legislation to make the I Matter youth mental health program permanent. Sponsored by Representatives Kyle Brown and Manny Rutinel, SB24-001 passed with a vote of 9-4. Representative Kyle Brown expressed pride in carrying this legislation to ensure that Colorado youth have access to no-cost therapy through the I Matter Program. The program has helped over 11,000 kids receive therapeutic services for mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders.

Representative Manny Rutinel emphasized the importance of passing this bill to continue providing no-cost mental health care services through the I Matter program. He stressed that mental health services should not be limited by a family’s income, and this legislation aims to break down barriers that prevent kids from accessing the care they need to learn, grow, and thrive. The I Matter program connects youth with licensed mental health therapists for up to six free virtual counseling sessions, and the bill seeks to make this program permanent rather than expiring on June 30, 2024.

Established in the 2021 legislative session and expanded by HB22-1243, the I Matter program has served over 11,000 Colorado youth since its inception, providing over 50,000 counseling sessions. Additionally, a law passed in 2023 allows school districts to offer mental health screenings in schools to support students’ access to mental health care. As a result, there has been a 30 percent decrease in youth suicide in 2023 compared to the previous year, according to the Colorado 2023 Kids Count report. This is a testament to the effectiveness of the I Matter program and its ability to provide crucial support for young people in need of mental health care.

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