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I Matter

A New Initiative Connects Youth With Mental Health Services for Up to Six Counseling Sessions—For Free

Article by Emily O'Brien

Photography by Courtesy of the program

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Between sheltering-in-place during the pandemic, the Marshall Fire and all the complexities that go along with growing up, the children of Colorado could use some time to talk and process life. Because at the end of the day, talking to someone can make life seem a little bit more manageable—even when it feels unbearable.

“I have seen an increase of children and teens needing therapy in recent years due to the increase of the unpredictability they have experienced,” says Jamie Peschke, MA, RP, of The Nest Creative Therapy Center in Lafayette. “The pandemic has had a major impact on all of us, removing our sense of safety, limiting accessibility to self-care and community, increasing the fear of the unknown and many other changes that impact one’s overall mental health. Most children and teens have not had a lifetime to practice skills of transition and loss of safety, as a result, all can cause an increase of stress on their mental health.”

Fortunately, the I Matter program is here to help. A temporary behavioral health services program that provides youth with access to mental health and substance use disorder services and that addresses needs that may have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic is now available, thanks to Colorado House Bill 21-1258. I Matter is funded by the Colorado Department of Human Services and supplies youth with up to six free behavioral health sessions and reimburses participating providers, which are licensed clinicians from agencies and independent contractors. Sessions can be held virtually or in person.

Jamie says, “A huge benefit I see for children and teens seeking therapy is increasing their self-awareness, expressing emotions in a healthy way and asking for help. Therapy can help children normalize what they are going through and meet emotions with curiosity instead of self-judgment.”

To get started, parents and youth can visit