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AG Coffman Announces Funding for First-of-its-Kind Pediatric Mental Health Initiative

Office to provide critical funding to help young people seeking mental health treatment and support

DENVER, Colo. — Today, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman announced that her office will provide a $2.8 million grant to launch a transformational initiative that will increase access to mental health services and support for young people across Colorado. Attorney General Coffman’s Office was joined by Jena Hausmann, President& CEO of Children’s Hospital Colorado, Andrew Romanoff, President and CEO of Mental Health Colorado, and young people from the community.

“Bold action is needed to save lives and get mental health treatment to Colorado’s children,” said Attorney General Coffman. “We have a crisis on our hands with more adolescents and teens taking their own lives, battling depression, and struggling with undiagnosed behavioral disorders. Teachers see it, parents suspect it, friends and classmates know it. It isn’t a lack of caring that’s at issue, it is an unconscionable lack of resources devoted to the mental health of children. We have to approach mental illness differently, collaboratively, and I challenge others to continue what we are starting today.”

The grant will support Partners for Children’s Mental Health (PCMH), a Center of Excellence that brings together nonprofits, pediatric experts, government agencies and thought partners across the state who share a deep commitment and concern for the current pediatric mental health crisis in Colorado, where suicide is the leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24. PCMH, led by Children’s Hospital Colorado, will improve the delivery of care and engage with kids earlier to prevent mental health problems from escalating to emergencies.

The Attorney General’s Office has a longstanding commitment to mental health and runs the Safe2Tell program, an anonymous way for students, parents, school staff and community members to report concerns about their safety or the safety of others. Since 2011, suicide has been the No. 1 most reported concern to Safe2Tell.

“Our kids are suffering because of the existing barriers to care. We need the support of donors to implement our bold vision to improve the mental health of children. We are so grateful to the Attorney General’s Office for providing the resources to make this a reality,” said Shannon Van Deman, Vice President of the Pediatric Mental Health Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado and Executive Director of Partners for Children’s Mental Health.

Over the next two years, this grant will support the following PCMH initiatives:

  • Complete a children’s mental health service array assessment in Colorado to identify what services are available and where kids are falling through the cracks
     
  • Pilot the implementation of an evidence-based practice model (e.g., PracticeWise) in rural Colorado to improve the quality of care for kids no matter where they are
     
  • Implementation of the School Mental Health Toolkit
     
  • Create a Zero Suicide pediatric care pathway for primary care physicians and begin holding training academies for 130 Colorado pediatric practices representing 700 pediatric physicians
     
  • Develop trauma-informed care training modules and begin delivering the training modules across Colorado
     
  • Create an assessment to identify which level of care coordination would be most beneficial to youth and families

This year Mental Health Colorado created the comprehensive and informative School Mental Health Toolkit. It is a blueprint for school mental health services, guiding community members, schools, local leaders, and districts through 10 best practices, including strategies for implementing, funding, and sustaining mental health services in schools. With the grant from the Attorney General’s Office, the Toolkit will be available in all 178 school districts in Colorado.  

Given that children spend more than half of their waking hours in school, schools play a vital role in shaping children’s and adolescents’ development. School-based services may also help reduce the stigma in seeking help for mental health concerns, one of the primary reasons that individuals and families do not seek support. The School Mental Health Toolkit will promote school-based mental health and wellness programs that work. It contains resources and steps that can be used to make schools the best they can be and ensure every child has a path to success.

“Students are more likely to access mental health services if they’re at school,” says Andrew Romanoff, Mental Health Colorado President and CEO. “It only makes sense to give school districts the tools they need to help their students.”

The grant from the Attorney General’s Office will serve as starter funding to launch this collaborative project and is intended to inspire the community to join the effort.

To help support care for kids who are struggling with mental health, please consider giving at PMHI.org.

For more information about Mental Health Colorado, please visit https://www.mentalhealthcolorado.org/

For more information about Safe2Tell or to report a concern, go to: https://www.safe2tell.org/

 

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CONTACT
Annie Skinner
Colorado Office of the Attorney General
Annie.Skinner@coag.gov
720-508-6553