DENVER — The last few years have been particularly difficult for Colorado students. Between the social pressures of growth and the stress of the pandemic, many students are struggling.
According to a Healthy Kids Colorado survey, in 2021, 40% of respondents reported that they stopped their usual activities because they felt helpless or sad for at least two weeks.
In the past few Congresses, lawmakers have passed bills that provide more funding and resources for students. This year they want to expand that work.
Student Mental Health Assessment
House Bill 23-1003, also known as School Mental Health Evaluations, provides for voluntary mental health evaluations conducted annually by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmental Affairs (CDPHE). Schools can decide whether or not to participate in the evaluation.
“It shows where students are in school. We bring screeners to school just like we get eye exams and ear exams in school. But this time it’s a mental health assessment,” he said. D-Commerce City Rep. Daphna Michelson-Jennett said:
In its current form, the bill requires all schools that choose to participate to notify parents in writing within the first two weeks of the start of the school year. Parents can decide whether or not to have their child evaluated, but Colorado law gives children over the age of 12 the right to consent to their own evaluation.
“Sometimes you need to talk to someone who isn’t a parent, and they should be bound by confidentiality, just as we are bound by confidentiality,” Michelson-Jennett said. “Our kids were like, ‘Why do I have to talk to this therapist? They’re going to call my mom later and say everything I said. They keep quiet and lie, so we had to make sure they had access to therapy.”
The bill is scheduled to face its first commission hearing on February 7.
student substance abuse help
Another bill aims to address the issue of drug use and abuse among high school students. House Bill 23-1009 would establish a 12-member committee to link resources to help students.
The committee is tasked with developing practices to identify school students who may be in need of substance use treatment or intervention.
Rep. Mandy Lindsay, D-Aurora, a co-sponsor of the bill, said schools should have preventative programs to discourage students from using drugs and alcohol in the first place, as well as programs focused on crisis intervention. says it already has. This bill will help fill the gap.
“Prevention is great. And obviously, treatment for children who are really at risk is very important. It gives me the opportunity to even talk about things like e-cigarettes and alcohol,” said Lindsey.
A mother of four, Lindsay says she knows the pressures students face in schools, social groups, pandemics and more. These days, she also vape her teens with attractive options like her pen.
She hopes the bill will give the state the direction it needs to curb student drug and alcohol use and help students before things reach critical levels.
“Nowadays, this behavioral health problem of young people is massive and they are clamoring for us to tell them what their problem is and what they need. And as a mother, as a legislator, I was like, ‘OK, I hear you. What can we do?’
CPR training in schools
One bill that addresses physical health in this session is Senate Bill 23-023. The Colorado Department of Education should adopt a curriculum for instruction in CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).
We also encourage all schools to adopt the CPR and AED curriculum in their schools.
Senator Janice Rich of R-Grand Junction said:
While this is already standard at CDE, the bill could shed light on the need for more training and encourage more students to consider pursuing a career in the medical field, Rich said. be.
“Wherever you are, if something happens, do you want to just stand there and watch them go away? Or maybe you can do something based on this,” Rich said. rice field.
She recognizes that not all schools can fund these programs, but there are grants to help and that this education can play a vital role in saving lives. says.
The bill passed its first committee test on Wednesday and is moving into the legislative process.
In addition to mental health assessments, lawmakers also introduced legislation to hire additional mental health professionals in schools, as well as provide more information to students.
House Bill 23-1007 requires crisis and suicide prevention contact information to be included on high school ID cards issued during the following school year. If you do not use a student ID, your institution must distribute information about Colorado Crisis Services and 988 at the beginning of each semester.
The bill passed its first commission test on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Senate Bill 23-004 allows school districts to employ licensed mental health professionals who are not licensed by the Department of Education. These professionals may be supervised by mentors or district administrators. The goal is to bring more resources to schools for student mental health.
The bill is not yet scheduled for public hearings.
Lawmakers say even with all of these bills in place, there is still much more to be done to help students, but they are committed to finding ways to help them.
“At each Legislative Council, we scrape and scrape a little more. There’s more work to be done until the emergency room department stops filling up,” Michelson-Jennett said.
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