COLORADO SPRINGS — An increase in mental health disorders among younger individuals is straining Colorado’s already limited supply of resources to provide treatment.

Statewide, Colorado is experiencing a shortage of mental health resources. As a result, the state has ranked third worst in the nation for mental health care, according to a licensed psychiatric councilor, Briana Serverine.

“This crisis is reaching a boiling point as a record number of teens are struggling with mental health and suicidal thoughts,” said Severine.

Severine cited the leading cause of death for Coloradans ages ten to 24 is suicide. These number have worsened since the pandemic when teens lacked peer support and activities such as going to school and participating in sports. According to Severine, there was a drastic increase in teens reporting depression and thoughts of suicide. This was coupled with high levels of substance abuse that would further worsen the state of mental health.

Meanwhile resources such as treatment centers and psychiatric beds available to support rising needs have declined. Severine says there are only 600 psychiatric beds available statewide to support a population of 5.8 million. A work force shortage making it hard to hire mental health professionals and a lack of insurance reimbursements for mental health services has contributed to the issue.

Severine advised that if anyone struggles to find resources, they can seek other options such as speaking with a psychiatric assessment team, psychiatric social worker, or an out patient therapist to improve mental health.

To encourage teens to ask for help, Severine says that communities must address the stigma behind having a mental health concern.

“We all need to reduce the stigma and shame… of accessing mental health care. People need to realize we all have mental health concerns just like we have physical health concerns,” Severine stated.

The age of consent to receive mental health treatment is 12-years-old. This means that for teens struggling with domestic abuse can access mental health services without parental consent. They do not have to disclose information if that is detrimental to receiving mental health care.