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Children's Hospital looks at what schools can do to help treat kids in mental crisis

Mental health resources are lacking in Colorado, especially for children
Children's Hospital Colorado Springs
Posted at 5:21 AM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 20:46:29-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado is among the worst states in the country in addressing pediatric mental health. In fact, Children's Hospital says we rank 48th overall. On top of that, the demand for pediatric mental health services is skyrocketing in every corner of our state.

Children’s Hospital Colorado leaders will formally declare a pediatric mental health "State of Emergency" on Tuesday, during a virtual roundtable event.

Watch the roundtable eventon our streaming platform KOAA News5 for Roku, FireTV, AndroidTV, or AppleTV.

Roundtable: Pediatric Mental Health in Colorado


  • Jena Hausmann – President & CEO of Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Dr. David Brumbaugh – Chief Medical Officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Pat Givens, RN, Ph.D. – Chief Nursing Officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Dr. Michael DiStefano – Chief Medical Officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs
  • Heidi Baskfield, J.D. – Vice President for Population Health & Advocacy at Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Tamara Pogue – Summit County Commissioner

One topic that will be discussed is the lack of resources available at hospitals and facilities. Colorado is among the worst states in the country (#48) in addressing pediatric mental health.

Demand for pediatric mental health services is skyrocketing in every corner of our state. Consistently in 2021, half the kids in the pediatric emergency department waiting rooms were experiencing a mental health crisis.

This issue is widespread, and even affects the facilities that treat kids in crisis.

According to Denver7, more than 40 youth residential centers have shut down in Colorado since 2007, and the 52 that remain are concerned that years of underfunding and new, costly federal regulations will make it even harder to operate.

Healthcare, education and county government experts will share what they’re seeing, and why Colorado must recognize and treat this crisis with the level of alarm and support it warrants.

"We know that the best way to help a child that's struggling with mental illness, is to start the conversation yourself," said Dr. Chris Rogers, a child psychiatrist.

"Recognizing children can suffer emotionally or can be overtaxed, and over-stressed, is a very good thing for our country," said Alison Steier, Vice President of Mental Health Services at Southwest Human Development.

Other topics include:

  • What factors are driving our pediatric mental health crisis
  • How mental health issues are overwhelming school districts and hindering their ability to educate our kids
  • How county governments across the state have reached their breaking points due to an explosion in demand for pediatric mental health resources
  • The inability of healthcare facilities to handle the number of pediatric mental health cases in our state (lack of facilities, beds, providers, community resources, and funding)
  • What potential solutions exist, including funding from the American Rescue Plan Act

If you or someone you love is struggling, you don't have to wait to get help.

RELATED: Sandy Hook Promise launches campaign to shine a light on teenage turmoil

It's not just in Colorado. The CDC says, mental health-related emergency department visits, involving kids, have increased since last March. In 2019, E-D visits increased 24 percent for 5 to 11-year-olds, and 31 percent, with 12 to 17-year-olds, in 2020.

Colorado and other states have adopted laws, making it so mental and behavioral health, can be added as a reason for students to be absent from school.

"Children of all ages can experience stress that can be too much, and in those cases I really think taking a break is a good idea and a good lesson for children," said "Alison Steier, the Vice President of Mental Health Services at Southwest Human Development. "They need to learn to take care of their own mental health, and its not a good idea to wait until you're over the edge."

Addressing mental health needs in school is critically important. 1 in 5 children and youth have an emotional, behavioral or mental health disorder, and 1 in 10 young people have a mental health challenge that is severe enough to impair how they function every day. In 2019, 15% of adolescents aged 12-17 reported receiving mental health services at school, compared to 17% who saw a specialty provider.

Young people often have more serious mental health needs, that may require school-linked mental health care. School-based mental health services are delivered by trained mental health professionals who are employed by schools, such as psychologists, counselors, social workers, and nurses.

By removing barriers, such as transportation, scheduling conflicts, and stigma, school-based mental health services can help students access the care they need throughout the school day.

“Most schools, most teachers, more principals, guidance counselors, understand the stresses that our kids are under and are very willing to have them take time off, have some assignments forgiven, and so I would say that message your mental health is more important than your G.P.A is paramount importance," said Child Psychiatrist, Dr. Chris Rogers.

If you are a parent and need help finding resources for your child, click here.