Polis health care road map

Gov. Jared Polis announces his administration's accomplishments on reducing health care costs, as his lieutenant governor, Dianne Primavera, marks them off during a press conference at the Colorado Capitol on Feb. 27, 2020.

Coloradans 18 years old or younger can get the self-affirming message "I Matter" from state government in the form of up to three free mental health counseling sessions.

Those 21 and younger who have received special education services also qualify for the product of the bipartisan House Bill 1258, which was signed by Gov. Jared Polis in June.

“From our first day in office, behavioral health has been a priority for the Polis-Primavera administration," Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "We recognize that the pandemic has amplified the need for mental health services, particularly for young people.

“This program is the first of its kind in the nation and meets the urgency of the moment. By bringing mental health support directly to Colorado youth, we can help them take charge of their healing, build resilience and help our state build back stronger.”

The $9 million I Matter program is part of the stimulus-funded package the governor's office on Wednesday called "the Polis-Primavera administration’s Colorado Comeback roadmap."

Funding expires on June 30 next year, and the state Office of Behavioral Health will report on the program to the legislature by Jan. 1, then again after the program ends.

Titled Rapid Mental Health for Colorado Youth, the legislation was cosponsored by Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, and Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, with Sens. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, and Rob Woodward, R-Loveland.

“By launching the I Matter program today, Colorado is making historic progress in our fight against the mental health crisis affecting our kids,” Michaelson Jenet said in a statement provided by the governor's office.

“Providing free mental health counseling to students is an innovative and transformational way to meet young people where they are and get them the support they need. I’m excited to see this program become a reality after so much hard work, and I hope to soon see other states follow Colorado’s lead.”

A confidential survey is available online for those interested to scheduled a session with a license professional. The session will usual happen online, as well.

The state is recruiting providers who represent Black, Indigenous, Latino and LGBTQIA+ clients. Those interested in being part of the program can email providers@imattercolorado.org.

This story was updated to correct the age qualifications.

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