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DENVER (CBS4) – One of the most ambitious mental health bills in state history is making its way through the legislature. The goal of the legislation is to help kids struggling with pandemic-related depression and anxiety.

Even before COVID-19, Colorado had a mental health crisis among kids. Suicide is the number one cause of death among kids ages 10-18 in Colorado, and Children’s Hospital says, since the pandemic started last year, it’s seen a 10% increase in emergency room visits by kids having suicidal thoughts.

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(credit: CBS)

Elsa Cavender, a sophomore at Douglas County High School, told a House committee she is one of the lucky ones who beat the odds.

“When I was in 8th grade, I stood on top of an eight story building and contemplated my life. Looking back, I am extremely grateful and lucky to be here today, but there are many adolescents who are not as lucky as I am.”

Too many kids, she says, don’t get the mental health treatment they need. Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet says that need is greater than ever after a pandemic that upended their lives.

“And we’re about to flip the switch on them and say ‘Hey, in a couple more months we’re going to go back to normal.'”

She fears many kids may not be ready to go back to normal. Michaelson Jenet introduced a bill with Rep. Kevin Van Winkle which would give every school-aged kid in Colorado access to a mental health screening, and if needed, three therapy sessions, all paid for by the state.

“It’s a risk free trial,” said Michaelson Jenet. “They get three visits to see if therapy is something they want to pursue.”

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The cost is $9 million if 25,000 kids take advantage of all three sessions.

“If I need to come back begging for more money, you better believe I will come back begging for more money,” Michaelson Jenet said.

The cost of doing nothing, she says, is far greater.

“Today is the anniversary of Columbine, and we know what adds to the possibility of school violence is putting kids with deep stress and deep trauma and deep anxiety into a pressure cooker and letting them go.”

(credit: CBS)

The bill, she says, will be a “game changer.”

Cavender agrees, “I do think this bill will save lives and help so many people.”

Here’s how the screenings will work: The state will create an online portal where kids can fill out a confidential screening. The goal is to open the portal by the end of May. If the screening indicates they need counseling, they’ll be referred to a therapist in their parents’ insurance network if possible, in case they need more than the three free sessions. Depending on demand, Michaelson Jenet says, some kids may be paired with an out-of-state therapist for telehealth visits.

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She says the state will work with rural and low income communities to make sure kids have access to a computer and the internet for telehealth. The bill passed its first committee Tuesday 11-1.

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Tags: denver news colorado news denver news to go back to normal a mental health the state for telehealth the state the screening in colorado access in colorado

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Kate Middleton and Prince William Lead Celebrities In A Mental Health Minute Broadcast

Wildlife commission aims to stop conservationists from rescuing sea turtles Americas unmasking brings liberation but also trepidation as huge questions loom © Provided by People The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/ youtube Kate Middleton and Prince William

Kate Middleton and Prince William are asking people to keep talking about mental health.

The royal couple led well-known faces from soccer star David Beckham to singer Anne-Marie and chef Jamie Oliver in a 60-second broadcast early Friday as they helped the U.K. stop and consider peoples' wellbeing.

Coming at the end of the country's Mental Health Awareness Week, William, 38, said, "it would be great to keep talking."

And Kate, 39, added, "Because our mental health binds every single one of us together."

The Mental Health Minute, which also featured actors Joanna Lumley and Charles Dance, was broadcast on radio station around Britain at 10.59a.m. local time. Beckham summed up one of the key themes, saying, "Taking time to reflect through the most challenging of years."

The 2021 #MentalHealthMinute ????

Featuring incredible voices including @KensingtonRoyal, David Beckham, Dame Shirley Bassey, Joanna Lumley and many more, and written by @HussainManawer in support of #Shout85258.

Over 500 UK stations united to play this important message ✨

— Shout 85258 (@GiveUsAShout) May 14, 2021 © The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/ youtube Kate Middleton and Prince William

The combined audience of the simultaneous radio broadcast was estimated to be around 20 million. The script was penned by poet and mental health activist Hussain Manawer, who also appears in the broadcast.

© Provided by People Shout 85258 Twitter

Earlier, in the run-up to the broadcast, Beckham urged people to turn on their radios. "This year more than ever, it's important that we all keep talking."

It's almost time for the #MentalHealthMinute ????

At 10:59am every radio station in the UK will play an important message in support of #Shout85258, encouraging us all to keep the conversation on mental health going.

Make sure you tune in ???? #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

— Shout 85258 (@GiveUsAShout) May 14, 2021

The minute-long message is in support of Shout 85258 – the 24/7 text messaging helpline developed by the couple's Royal Foundation, and is the latest element of their work on the issue this week.

© Provided by People Kate Middleton and Prince William

On Thursday, they visited Wolverhampton, in England's Midlands, and toured some projects helping people with their wellbeing and enjoyed some games with children. "Come on, Catherine!" William said as he encouraged his wife to join his game of ping-pong. "Catherine is really good at table tennis."

As she grabbed her paddle, the couple were clearly in their element. "This could go on for hours," said William. "Talk amongst yourselves!"

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© Provided by People Jacob King - WPA Pool/Getty Images Prince William playing ping-pong

Victoria Hornby, chief executive officer of Mental Health Innovations, the charity behind Shout 85258, said in a statement, "It has been an incredibly tough year for so many people and it's more important than ever that anyone who is feeling worried or overwhelmed knows where to turn, to reach out for help."

© Provided by People Jacob King/AP/Shutterstock Kate Middleton and Prince William enjoying their day out in Wolverhampton

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"Our service is here 24/7 for people to have a free, confidential text conversation with one of our trained volunteers who will listen without judgment, help you feel calm and find a way forward. Just text SHOUT to 85258 at any time of day or night; we're here for you."

On Monday, Kate released a video of a touching call she made to a teen named Romy who took part in the Duchess of Cambridge's "Hold Still" photo project, which highlighted life amid lockdown.

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