Free mental health therapy for youth "I Matter" becomes permanent

Free mental health therapy for youth "I Matter" becomes permanent

A pandemic-era program making mental health support accessible for young people in Colorado will become permanent, as state lawmakers have made the program permanent.

Thursday, May 16 is Mental Health Action Day and CBS News Colorado is highlighting ways we all can prioritize our mental health as high as our physical health.


The free counseling offered to youth via "I Matter" has served more than 12,000 youth since its founding.

"It breaks down the barriers for our students to be able to access mental health, so I think this is huge," said Nova Center Coordinator Emily Nickerson. 

The Nova Center is an alternative school in Littleton Public Schools.

Nickerson says the I Matter program, which offers up to six free counseling sessions with a licensed therapist, has been a game changer.

"I think it's extremely accessible and easy for kids to navigate and for families to navigate," Nickerson said.

"This can be done through telehealth, this can be done in person, and there's no cost," said Matt Holtman, children and youth intergovernmental liaison at the Behavioral Health Administration.


Since its launch in 2021, youth in 63 Colorado counties have taken part in some 47,000 therapy sessions. More than half of the sessions have been in person.

And 80% of youth end up being referred for additional behavioral health care. 

"Even though it's been wildly successful, again over 12,000 youth in Colorado, we know there's more out there who haven't accessed the program," said Holtman.

For too long, I Matter's proponents say, young people suffered in silence.

The most common reasons for seeking the therapy include anxiety, depression, concerns over self-esteem, and conflicts with family or peers.

Behavioral Health Administration

"We have an additional opportunity for our kids to be able to access mental health, whether it's during the school day or they're at home but it just provides that opportunity," said Nickerson.

Access I Matter therapy by going to its official website

Young people and their parents are encouraged to be as honest and forthright as possible in the questionnaire in order to be matched with the right therapist.

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