On Monday afternoon, Brandon McManus stepped onto the Colorado Senate floor to add his voice in support of a bill to help children in Colorado receive mental health services.
The bill, HB21-1258, proposes the creation of a rapid-response program through a web portal or app to help mental health care become more accessible to Colorado youth. The program would offer mental health screenings, three free mental health counseling sessions and more.
As the group received testimony from assorted professionals, McManus spoke of the experiences he's seen through his anti-bullying work as part of his Project McManus foundation.
"I saw this bill was being presented to you guys, and I wanted to be a part of it," McManus said. "I thought just everything that's going on — not just this year with COVID — I know this bill is coming out because of COVID. Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates for our youth. It's the leading cause of death for our youth."
Because of the pandemic, children may feel more isolated with their problems, but given access to mental health utilities like the one offered in the bill could provide them with the help they need.
"They're afraid to tell their friends, they're afraid to tell their parents what's going on, because they don't want to [be] looked as weak or struggling," McManus said. "But we have so many struggling people and with COVID and parents. The result on our kids, there's a destruction from above. Let's say you lose a job and now the parents are at odds with each other and divorce is imminent, and now the kid is the one that's got to struggle as well with COVID and going back to school. Some of them who might have had a lot of life changes, some of whom might now be part of the LGBT community and all of a sudden they have to face their students for the first time because they haven't seen them before."
If the bill does pass, McManus told the Senate that he's committed to helping get the word out about it, hoping to give the community a more proactive and not reactive solution to the issue.
"I plan on pushing it through, helping the communities and going to schools and getting it implemented in place," McManus said.
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