To address teens’ mental health needs, Colorado to launch Youth Mental Health Corps

By Melanie Asmar, originally published in Chalkbeat Colorado

Colorado is one of four states to launch a new public-private program this fall aimed at addressing the growing mental health needs of teenagers and a lack of providers

Called the Youth Mental Health Corps, a new program will train young adults, ages 18 to 24, to act “as navigators serving middle and high school students in schools and in community-based organizations,” said a press release from Colorado Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera’s office. The Youth Mental Health Corps website says corps members will “connect youth to needed mental health supports and resources in close collaboration with practitioners and community partners.”

The federal AmeriCorps service program will work with the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration and the Colorado Community College System to recruit and deploy the navigators, who will get a stipend and be eligible for student loan forgiveness and other assistance in paying for college, the press release said.

“By joining this national initiative, we are not only addressing the urgent need for mental health resources but also creating meaningful pathways for our young adults to pursue careers in this vital field,” Primavera said in a statement.

Photo of a youth with a backpack in the mountains next to "Youth Mental Health Corps" sponsor logos
Image from Youth Mental Health Corps website

Children’s Hospital Colorado declared a pediatric mental health “state of emergency” in 2021, and both public agencies and private organizations in the state responded with programs to address the crisis. The programs include I Matter, which provides six free telehealth or in-person counseling sessions to students in elementary through high school and which Colorado lawmakers recently funded until 2034.

The Schultz Family Foundation, founded by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and his wife, Sheri, and the online platform Pinterest are backing the Youth Mental Health Corps program, according to a press release from AmeriCorps. The press release mentioned “broad concern about the impact of social media on the mental health of young people” and said the Youth Mental Health Corps will “help students navigate social challenges online such as harassment, bullying and bias.”

Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas will launch Youth Mental Health Corps programs in September with “hundreds” of navigators across the four states. Seven other states — California, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Utah — are set to launch programs in the fall of 2025.

Read the original article here.

Melanie Asmar is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat Colorado.

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Supporting people in recovery from trauma and suicidal intensity is my Why. I live differently abled & am proudly part-Indigenous (Mvskoke).
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