Nope, you can’t get that help.
Kids across our country are experiencing significant mental health issues. Some experts say this is part of the fall out of the pandemic and the years students spent out of school supposedly learning online. States are responding differently when kids ask for help.
In some states, that help cannot be delivered without the approval of parents. Research indicates that requiring parental permission can be a significant barrier to children getting help. But there are differing perspectives on mental health treatment. Some cultures just don’t approve of it especially for kids. The attitude is she will grow out of it or “I don’t want some counselor brain-washing my child with ideas I don’t approve of”. Access to therapy is particularly critical for children who identify as LGBTQ. These kids are significantly more likely to attempt suicide and also more likely to have family who do not approve of their feelings.
States are responding quite differently. States like Colorado, California and Maryland have lowered the age of consent for treatment to 12. In New York teens can self-consent to treatment at age 16 and physicians can authorize that treatment for younger children if they believe it is necessary. But there are caveats. The consent laws are only for outpatient and do not extend to prescription medications. Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina have the worst records for providing access to mental health care for kids. Everyone agrees that mental health treatment for children is much more effective if parents are in partnership with the treatment.
There are also differences by race. Data show that 14% of white children have had therapy at one time. But those percentages drop dramatically for black children to 9% and 8% for Hispanic kids and only 3% for Asian children. Distrust of therapists who are of a different race and/or bad experiences with psychotropic drugs are offered as the major reasons for failure to access therapy.
As a society we have identified a serious problem for our children. As states we have taken two entirely different approaches. Some states have expanded access to counseling by allowing kids to self-refer. Other states have further limited access by requiring parental permission not just for counseling outside of school but even for seeing a school counselor for any issue at all, including academic counseling.
We all admit kids need the help. Some states are trying to facilitate that help. While other states are acknowledging kids may need help, but there are going to be some tall border walls going up.