November 15, 2018

Age of Consent for Mental Health

Mental Health Treatment for Minors
Many parents and even service providers don’t know that in 2005, House Bill 1058 gave parents the right to initiate mental health treatment for their teen without consent from their minor child.

Parents are not required to file an “At-Risk Youth Petition” first.

House Bill 1058: Parent Initiated Alternatives House Bill #1058, also known as Parent Initiated Alternatives, addresses how mental health treatment for teens is accessed. The law permits a teen, age 13 or older, to seek inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment without parental consent.

Parents Have Rights, Too
In 2005, House Bill 1058 clarified the law and cleared up confusion regarding parent initiated mental health treatment for teens, stating consent of the minor child is not required for mental health treatment. It has now been made clear that parents may initiate mental health treatment for their teen.

What the Law Says
A parent may bring their child to a mental health facility (outpatient clinic) or a mental health evaluation and treatment center (hospital) without the consent of their minor child, even if the youth is over the age of 13. This applies to both outpatient and in-patient treatment.

What the Law Says about Inpatient Mental Health Settings
Inpatient facilities must follow the statutory guidelines for an evaluation, including notification of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Once notified, DSHS must conduct an independent evaluation. If the youth is held at an inpatient facility, he or she has the option of seeking a judicial review. The youth may then be held for up to 30 days.

Timelines for Inpatient Treatment
Initial Evaluation
The initial evaluation of the minor must take place within 24-72 hours from the time the minor entered the facility.

Department Review
A review by the Department must occur between three and seven days following the date the minor was brought into the facility.

Judicial Review
The minor may seek a judicial review of the Department’s decision to hold the minor. The petition for judicial review may be filed at any time following the Department review.

Liability Limitations for Service Providers
Another area of clarification made by House Bill 1058 regards liability limitations for service providers. It further defined liability limitations that protect agencies and professionals who provide mental health services in good faith. Decisions to admit,
release, or detain a person for evaluation and treatment by treatment facilities, physicians and mental health professionals cannot be the basis for a civil or criminal suit so long as the decisions made by the professional were made in good faith and without gross negligence.