COLORADO SPRINGS — A state of emergency for youth mental health was declared in 2021 by Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado), and “the urgency of that crisis continues.”

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and Children’s Colorado will be hosting a Virtual Mental Health Town Hall on Wednesday. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), “suicide is a leading cause of death for youth in Colorado,” and Children’s Colorado is striving to help families “identify and help kids in crisis.”

The virtual town hall will include “important topics, including suicidality, eating disorders and drug use,” and will also “discuss how parents and teachers can make a difference through mental health first aid, advocacy efforts and watching for key warning signs,” according to Children’s Colorado.

This time of year, according to Children’s Colorado, they “normally see a significant increase in patients seeking mental health help and treatment.” In September 2021, “anywhere from 15 to 40 kids came each day to the emergency departments at Children’s Hospital Colorado suffering from a mental health crisis.”

The virtual town hall is free, and will also give participants the opportunity to ask questions. The event will happen from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on August 31, and those interested in attending can register, here. For those who register, the Zoom information will be be sent at noon on August 31.

Full list of speakers and pediatric experts:

  • Moderator: Dr. Ron-Li Liaw, Mental Health-in-Chief
  • Jenna Glover, PhD, Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist and Director of Psychology Training with CU Dept. of Psychiatry
  • Jesse Hinckley, MD, Assistant Professor, Director of Adolescent Psychiatric Services, ARTS, Co-Director of the Addiction Biology Lab
  • Zach Zaslow, Director of Government Affairs and Medicaid Strategy

Full list of topics to be discussed, according to Children’s Colorado:

  • Suicidality – what to look for and when to come to an emergency department
  • Mental health first-aid – what it is and how to ensure your family is prepared
  • How to have bold conversations about mental health – why destigmatizing mental health is still important
  • Advocacy efforts – since seeing our hospital and the U.S. Surgeon General declare emergencies for youth mental health, people are asking, “What can I do? What needs to be done?” Zach Zaslow, director of Government Affairs, can speak on federal legislation and how national efforts will (and should) benefit communities across Colorado.