Colorado Department of Law, schools, organizations working together to support youth mental health
Attorney General’s Office releases report calling for continued investment in resources
May 24, 2022 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today joined Golden High School and Sources of Strength to applaud ongoing work at the school to support students’ mental health, and to urge continued statewide collaboration to address mental health concerns. Youth mental health is a top priority for the Attorney General’s Office, which released a report today demonstrating how this collaboration is supporting youth mental health across Colorado and calling for continued investment in the state’s young people.
Since 2018, the Department of Law has provided almost $1 million for Sources of Strength via a partnership with the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention. Sources of Strength aims to prevent suicide by increasing help-seeking behaviors and promoting connections between peers and caring adults. The department also recently collaborated with Rocky Mountain Health Plans to provide an additional $500,000 grant to the program through the Healthy Youth/Strong Colorado Fund. The fund allocated a total of $5 million to support youth programs throughout the state.
The 2022 Youth Mental Health Report released today highlights the work of some of those programs, which play a pivotal role in empowering teens across Colorado through their peer-leadership programs, emotional support services, and therapeutic approaches to learning and development.
“May is Mental Health Awareness month and a critical time for us to focus on teen mental health. As I heard from several Golden High School students who spoke today, we need to focus on building communities that include strong support systems and trusted adults as part of an overall strategy for ensuring students’ wellbeing,” Weiser said. “The ongoing work they and our community partners are engaged in statewide is saving lives, which is why I will continue to urge our state to invest in the critical resources and infrastructure that are necessary to support our youth.”
“It’s easy to feel misunderstood and feel like you don’t have anyone who knows what you’re going through, so it’s important to know you’re not—and we say this all the time—you’re not alone here,” said Soli Ficco, an 11th grade member of Sources of Strength at Golden High School.
“One of the most important pieces of education is peer connection,” said Brian Conroy, Principal, Golden High School. “We can make each other’s lives better. I think that’s where we as a community have said enough is enough and allowed students here to take charge of their own connections.”
“The Sources of Strength vision is to empower a well world. We do this by partnering with peer leaders and trusted adults to increase help-seeking behaviors and promote connectedness in schools throughout Colorado. It is a privilege to partner with Attorney General Weiser’s Office and the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention to expand the Sources of Strength reach throughout Colorado,” said Dan Adams, Vice President of Programs for Sources of Strength.
Reports submitted to the Safe2Tell program show that mental health is a top concern for students and communities. Preliminary data from the 2021-2022 school year highlighted in the Youth Mental Health Report shows that 19% of the 16,726 reports submitted to the program were related to mental health. About 50 of those who submitted mental health reports chose to be transferred to Colorado Crisis Services for direct support. The report also states that most urgent safety concerns reported to the program are submitted by students about their peers. While Safe2Tell encourages students to first talk to a trusted adult, when possible, data also clearly shows that students are vital to ensuring each other’s wellbeing.
Schools are also key to ensuring students and programs have the tools they need to be successful. The top report submitted to Safe2Tell is a threat of suicide by a student. Although teen suicide rates in Colorado have held steady since a peak in 2019, suicides remain the top cause of death for Coloradans between 12-24 years of age and demand more urgency and vigilance on the issue of teen mental health.
Click here to read the 2022 Youth Mental Health Report.
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