By: Jacob Bolen and Jordan Emery
“As someone who is clinically depressed and anxious, I have always had trouble finding peace within myself. Like many others, I have tried a lot of options to help me and my mental health.” – Buddha
Mental health: the commonality that focuses a vast majority of this year’s Mock Legislative Bills. The question lies in whether or not these bills are passing and why there is such a prevalent theme among our bills.
Jimena Becerra, along with author Giselle De Haro, spoke on behalf of House Bill 2-201 which pertained to providing mental health aid for children whose guardians have been deported in Colorado. It is evident through debate and reasonable accusations that the challenge of mental health is a broad topic that needs to be addressed in our state legislation. Becerra included examples from her personal life stating that, “it’s heartbreaking to see the lost hope in a child’s eyes because they don’t have access to mental health care they need at that young age. These children should not be denied the right that they deserve not only as a United States citizen, but as a human being.”
This argument was countered in the opposing speech provided by Ethan Cranston (pictured). The opposing counsel conceded that mental health needed to be addressed, however, bill 201 was not the solution to this problem. The bill itself only allocated 30 days for implementation; which was ruled an insignificant amount of time for the signing, therapist training, and application of the new practices.
The bill struggled in finding funding for the proposed requirements from existing state tax on marijuana sales. In 2017, the state of Colorado reported receiving $247,368,473 from marijuana tax sales (Colorado Department of Revenue). One percent of this income, as described in the bill, would not be enough to support the necessary costs of providing mental health care for children of deported parents in Colorado. Based off of the opposing speeches and lack of specifying information in the bill, by a count of 1-11 House Bill 201 failed.
As for Emma Belew-LaDue’s (pictured) House Bill 2-205 regarding amending the education law, in relation to clarifying health education. Following rigorous debate and research, her bill was ultimately passed. Belew-LaDue advocated for
further implication of mental health in pre-existing high school health classes. She quotes that, “Suicide is the leading cause of death of teens in the state of Colorado.” (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) This bill was amended to include the phrase “or existing science classes” to be included in the curriculum of previously existing high school classes
Mental health is an evident topic within the 2018 Youth and Government Mock Legislation. With more than half the presented bills in the Health and Human Services category concern the topic, it has become evident that our representatives are passionate in advocating for laws supporting improvement to mental health education. Today’s youth are recognizing the growing struggle with psychological disabilities and are bringing it to the floor of our capitol to voice their concerns.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/colorado/colorado.htm CDR. (2018, November). Department of Revenue. Retrieved November 19, 2018, from https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/revenue