By: Aubree Hughes

August 28, 2019

Heading back to school can be tough on young people. Each year, an estimated 200,000 students in Colorado experience a mental health or substance use disorders — enough to fill nearly 2,800 school buses. Mental Health Colorado is currently working with school districts to implement its School Mental Health Toolkit in districts across the state.

Mental Health Colorado President and CEO Andrew Romanoff believes every child in Colorado would benefit from the social and emotional learning outlined in the toolkit.

“This is a time of great anxiety for kids, and for their parents too,” Romanoff said. “Students who are struggling with social and emotional issues are far more likely to fall behind, drop out, be suspended or expelled — and it doesn’t have to be this way.”

The School Mental Health Toolkit spells out strategies and funding options for schools to improve students’ mental health. Those strategies include screening children for mental health and substance use disorders, teaching social-emotional skills and engaging parents and families.

Students today may face cyber-bullying, body shaming, suicidal thoughts or immigration issues, and they often don’t know where to turn. Research shows that students are seven times more likely to receive the mental health care they need if it’s available in schools.

Parents and students with mental health or substance use concerns can take a doctor-approved mental health screening at

For more information about the School Mental Health Toolkit, visit

Mental Health Colorado is the state’s leading advocate for the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. The nonprofit is an affiliate of Mental Health America.

Aubree Hughes is Communications Associate at Mental Health Colorado.

Originally appeared in Pagosa Daily Post.