Now is the Time to Improve Child and Youth Mental Health Care

Colorado is in a state of crisis when it comes to mental health and suicide among youth:

  • In 2017, suicide was the leading cause of death for children ages 10-24 in Colorado. Our state consistently ranks in the top 10 states with the highest suicide rates overall.
  • 31.4% of Colorado youth reported feeling sad for two or more weeks in the past twelve months.
  • 23% of children in the United States – 17.1 million – have or have had a psychiatric disorder. That is more than the total number of children with cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
  • 50% of all psychiatric illness occurs before the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 24.
  • There is an average delay of 8-10 years between the onset of mental health symptoms and intervention.
  • Almost 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system in Colorado have a mental health disorder.
  • Mental Health Colorado estimates that only 22% of youth who have a mental illness with severe impairment are receiving care – a staggering gap between need and access.

We know that children in our state experience mental health challenges at higher rates than most of the nation and have less access to needed prevention, early intervention, services, and supports. That is why Children’s Hospital Colorado, Mental Health Colorado, Healthier Colorado, Kempe Center, The Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, Colorado Chapter and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Colorado Chapter joined together to create Action on Youth Mental Health, a coalition committed to working with partners across the state on solutions that address crucial challenges facing children.

Together, we have the power to make things better. We know that public policy decisions can dramatically change child and youth mental health outcomes for the better.

The policies that we are driving in the 2019 legislative session will:

  • Advance children and youth mental health services
  • Bring significant cost savings
  • Enhance capacity to provide care based on better data
  • Improve governance of our state’s mental health system to push even more far-reaching solutions in the future.