Kids and teens are in a tough predicament when it comes to seeking treatment for a mental health concern. While they can talk to a school counselor or such, most times the counselor or nurse has to inform the teens’ parents of such contact. This article describes the process in Indianapolis schools:
Confidential mental-health services are available in some Indianapolis schools. Midtown, part of Wishard Health Services, provides services at about 20 Indianapolis Public Schools.
“All children who we treat have to have parental consent. We want the family’s input on what it is they want their children to achieve or accomplish in school and in their counseling. So we get everybody involved and then try to build on the students’ strengths so that they can be successful,” Augenbergs said.
While well-intentioned, such requirements means that seeking treatment for their concern is not a possibility. For many legitimate reasons, teens don’t always want their parents knowing what’s going on with them. And while parents believe they have a right to such information, the reality is that they will only get whatever information their kid chooses to tell them.
We have to keep in mind that age 18 is an arbitrary legal line, but it doesn’t mean a teenager is a “kid” at 17, and an “adult” one year later. Becoming an adult is a process, and it starts at 13 or 14 for a lot of teens nowadays. Teens deserve the same rights to privacy and confidentiality as adults do when discussing their emotional or mental health issues. And while some of their concerns may be related to family issues, many are not. It should be the teen’s decision and choice whether to share their mental health issues with their parents, not a forced decision made for them.
Mental health services should be available to teens (but perhaps not pre-teens or children) without parental consent. If one were rich enough and old enough looking, one might be able to seek out psychotherapy on one’s own in private and pay cash. But most teens aren’t rich, don’t have that kind of money, and don’t look old enough.
If one in 5 or 10 teens has a mental health concern (the article is a little confusing in its description of how many teens suffer from such concerns), this is a pretty serious trend. And I suspect one that isn’t being well-addressed by the current treatment options available to most teens.
Read the full article: Kids must speak up about mental health