Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mental health counseling for minors, without parental permission

California State Senator, Mark Leno, is proposing state (not federal) legislation that would allow minors, aged 12-17, to get mental health services without parental consent. The concern is that requiring parents to give permission for the counseling will prevent the minor from getting that counseling or lead to abuse of minor by parents. Here are facts and links about the bill, SB 543

One of those links has a section titled "Issue" where it talks about reasons why parental consent can block minors from getting services. I believe this list of reasons shows the wisdom of the mental health advocates who are behind this bill. Two such reasons:

"Youth whose parents come from cultures that do not condone mental health services."

"Youth that feel shame, embarrassment or fear of disappointing their parents"

The above reasons can also apply to minors seeking reproductive and sexual health services, like birth control, abortion, STD testing or information on these.

**Note: while the links make references to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) minors, the language of the bill does not restrict these benefits to LGBT minors. Read the links, and you'll see how the bill is structured to apply to all minors.

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