The I Matter website and program was designed with input from Colorado students to be welcoming and inclusive. (Screenshot of imattercolorado.org)

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at ckbe.at/newsletters

Colorado launched a program Wednesday to offer three free mental health sessions to children.

Anyone between 12 and 18 can go to the I Matter state website to take a short survey to assess their needs. If the results show they need help, the site will connect them to a provider for a 45-minute appointment in the next two weeks. One of the early questions asks if the young person is in crisis and directs those who answer yes to a crisis line and a more rapid response.

Children under 12 can also use the service but need a parent to do so, and young adults who are receiving special education services can access the free help up to age 21.

“We have reduced as many barriers as humanly possible,” said state Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, a Commerce City Democrat who spearheaded the effort. She said officials believe it’s the first of its kind in the country.

The program was created after a bill she sponsored passed with bipartisan support this spring. Lawmakers allocated $9 million to launch the effort in response to increasing student mental health needs.

Read more on Chalkbeat Colorado.

Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat

Reporter — Chalkbeat Colorado Email: yrobles@chalkbeat.org