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A Focus On Schools During Mental Health Month

DENVER (CBS4) - In Colorado, there's an effort to move mental health from the shadows to the forefront and one company is starting in schools.

Gov. John Hickenlooper declared May Mental Health Month on Monday. The designation aims to help the one in four Coloradans suffering from a mental health or substance disorder. Colorado is ranked ninth in the nation for suicide.

Kaiser Permanente is launching a new public health initiative to start a conversation about mental health. On Monday, the company announced a $1.5 million grant designated for mental health awareness that will benefit five school districts throughout the state.

(credit: CBS)

Those school districts include the Boulder Valley School District, Cherry Creek Schools, the Summit School District, the Thompson School District and the Fountain-Fort Carson School District.

"It obviously will provide a great deal of additional support for our students. I think focusing on making sure that they are balanced and that they come to school prepared and that they're ready to learn and that their needs are being met," said Cherry Creek Schools Asst. Superintendent Judy Skupa.

The grant is in combination with a campaign called #FindYourWords, which is designed to help communities start a positive, comfortable conversation about mental health.

For many, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health and it's difficult to ask for help.

"So we're really hoping to increase access to mental  health programs. And also to identify and treat mental illnesses, not just for the students but also for staff," said Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman Carmen Martin.

An empty classroom of the Nisitenma elem
File photo of a classroom. (credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

The schools were chosen based on a number of factors including that some sort of mental health program was already in place.

The grant money will officially be awarded to the schools in August.

Mental Health Awareness Month spans the entire month of May and includes an additional focus on those issues impacting Coloradans.

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne talked about the shift in attitude and treatment on CBS4 This Morning with CBS4's Britt Moreno on Monday.

LINK: Mental Health Colorado


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