• March 2nd, 2024
  • Saturday, 02:53:24 AM

Colorado Extends Access to Free Therapy for Youth

The I Matter program provides free therapy for youth. / El programa Yo Importo ofrece terapia gratuita a los jóvenes. (Photo: Adobe Stock)



Colorado renews its commitment to provide free mental health services to all young people in Colorado. Lawmakers approved continued funding for the I Matter program, which provides free therapy for youth. The state support guarantees up to six free therapy sessions for youth 18 years old and younger, or 21 years old and younger if they are receiving special education services. Therapy is available in English and Spanish




I Matter first launched October 27, 2021 and has now been funded through June 30, 2024. Lawmakers allocated $6 million dollars for this effort in the 2023-2024 budget.


“We know there are many barriers that keep youth from receiving mental health care, including stigma, cost, and location. The BHA is proud to continue providing any youth in Colorado with free, confidential therapy sessions from licensed therapists that meet patients where they are,” said Michelle Barnes, Interim Commissioner of the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA), the agency that oversees the program.


In less than two years, nearly 8,000 Colorado youth have participated in at least one therapy session and youth from 61 counties have scheduled an I Matter appointment. More than 37,000 therapy sessions have been completed. Therapy appointments are primarily scheduled via telehealth, which removes known barriers to accessing mental health services for urban, frontier, rural, and Tribal populations. More than 215 licensed clinicians participate in the I Matter program.


“Youth in Colorado and across the country have experienced heightened mental health challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic. I Matter was created to be a mental health resource for kids, and we are so thankful to see it stay, because the need remains prevalent,” said Paul Barnett, Director of Child, Youth, and Family Services at the BHA.


Although I Matter operates year round, program usage historically declines in the summer months largely because school’s out. This summer, all youth and/or their guardians are encouraged to reach out to I Matter if they need support. More resources and how to be connected to a therapist can be found at IMatterColorado.org.


If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help dealing with one, call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. Learn more at coloradocrisisservices.org.


Accessing and signing up for I Matter services is easy by visiting IMatterColorado.org and YoImportoColorado.org, where visitors will participate in a confidential online survey about their mental health and can schedule their sessions. Per state law, youth 12 and older can consent to therapy. Parents of youth 11 and younger will need to take the survey and consent to services for their youth.