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Day two of David Pecker testimony wraps in NY Trump trial; Supreme Court hears arguments on Idaho's near-total abortion ban; ND sees a flurry of campaigning among Native candidates; and NH lags behind other states in restricting firearms at polling sites.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

CO lawmakers ponder several measures to boost children's mental health

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024   

Advocates say Colorado legislative leaders are working to make the state a leader in addressing the youth mental health crisis. At least nine bills are pending, ranging from funds for existing programs to creating new ways to reach children and adolescents.

A recent study showed the need is great and the number of children requiring care is growing. At the same time, the availability of services is dwindling.

Sandra Fritsch, a psychiatrist with Colorado Children's Hospital, said she is heartened to see policymakers paying attention to the problem but the need may be greater than what they can approve.

"Mental health is bipartisan," Fritsch argued. "You can't have a family and not have someone within that family that's affected in some way as well. I think that's one place where a lot of people agree."

She noted studies show of those living with a diagnosed mental health condition, only 25% are receiving the specialty care they need. Among children, almost 65% of Coloradans ages 12 to 17 who have depression did not receive any care in the previous year.

The legislature is working on bills to make the "I Matter" program permanent, expand access to youth mental health first aid, increase access to school-based health care, and create a children's behavioral health system.

Fritsch pointed out technology will be used to deliver of many of the services.

"We do have more available kinds of treatments through the emerging telehealth system, from partial hospitalization programs to individual work to intensive outpatient programs," Fritsch outlined. "It's emerging and hopefully developing in a good way."

A recent poll showed an overwhelming majority of voters -- and 95 % of Colorado parents -- believe there is a growing mental health crisis affecting children and youths in Colorado. Fritsch believes it is changing minds about mental health care.

"It's kind of like, 'Well, kids don't vote, they're not our constituents.' I think that has shifted and changed dramatically," Fritsch emphasized. "People are recognizing that if we don't spend the time to really take care of and support our youth to be as healthy as possible, that our population is going to suffer."


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