COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- With the mental health crisis mounting among children in southern Colorado during the pandemic, an opportunity now for kids to get free professional therapy.
Swanson Counseling is one provider in Colorado Springs that accepts 'I matter' patients. But since the program started in October, they've seen just 20 patients. State officials say they want families to know this service is here, and it costs nothing.
The 'I Matter' program started with three free mental health therapy sessions, but now the state has nearly doubled that to six. "We realized that we actually have funding to pay for up to six sessions for youth and then you know if a youth is in a situation where they really need to continue with that therapist before transitioning with a different therapist or a different level of care we can still pay for more sessions," shared Liz Owens, the director of programs for the Colorado Department of Human Services, office of Behavioral Health.
According to the state, across Colorado more than 650 youth have received at least one therapy session through the program, but in El Paso county that number is at 70. "As of Monday, over the next two weeks we still have 712 appointments available, so if youth haven't checked it out, if parents haven't checked it out, it is important to note we still have plenty of appointments available," added Owens.
At Swanson Counseling, 80% of patients are continuing with their therapy after going through the program. "I think the three sessions paid for the state is very very beneficial to at least stabilize some kids and maybe refer to care or continue with sessions as required," said Tim Swanson.
Kids 18 and younger - or 21 and younger for those who are utilizing special education services - can take an online survey at imattercolorado.Org that will evaluate their needs. They can then schedule 45-minute sessions with a counselor. The care will be through Telehealth for the most part, unless the provider is offering in-person sessions. For children under 12, parents or guardians are required. According to the governor's office the funding is enough to help 10,000 children. For more head on over to their website.