Provide Teenagers Mental Help Without Parental Consent

Depression

Target: Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber

Goal: Allow teenagers to access mental help without parental consent.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers aged 15-19. A survey of high school students found that more than one in every twelve students attempted suicide in a single year. The suicide rate of children aged 10-14 doubled between the early 1990s and the early 2000s. If these mentally ill children did not have to go through a parent to receive professional medical assistance, thousands of lives could be saved.

Recently, the Oregon senate passed a bill (Senate Bill 491) which would enable teenagers to access mental health resources without parental consent. We must encourage Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to sign this bill into law.

Many teenagers forgo psychiatric medical attention because of various laws requiring they have consent from a legal guardian to receive professional counseling or psychiatric medication. Laws requiring consent are reasonable in theory–medication abuse is also a large issue. However, because of the way society handles mental health issues, a child may have a variety of reasons for not wanting to inform their parents of their struggles. They may wish to work through the issues without their parents’ help. They may wish to take control of their own mental health. They may be afraid of disappointing their parents. They may not want to place additional burden on their parents. They may be afraid that their parents will treat them differently if they learn of their mental illness.

A child may not be able to tell their parents what they’re going through, but it is incredibly important to have these mental issues addressed. Studies have found that fewer than one in five teenagers who are thought to have depression receive treatment for their disorder. It is not always possible for a teen to “find a trusted adult” when they are struggling with depression. Professional treatment of these disorders is essential if we are to lower the suicide rate and have a happier population.

By not requiring parental consent, we can remove one more obstacle in the way of getting depressed teenagers help. We can help them state by state, starting by encouraging John Kitzhaber to sign Senate Bill 491 into law.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear John Kitzhaber,

Many teenagers forgo medical attention because of various laws requiring they need consent from a legal adult to receive professional counseling or psychiatric medication. Laws requiring consent make sense in theory–one would not want a teenager abusing medication. However, to get parental consent, a teenager must tell their parents that they are struggling with mental health issues. Because of the way society handles mental health issues, a teenager may have several reasons for not wanting to inform their parents of their struggles. They may want to work through the issues without their parents’ help. They may want to take control of their own mental health. They may be afraid of disappointing their parents. They may not want to place additional burden on their parents. They may be afraid that their parents will treat them differently if they learn of their mental illness.

The current laws surrounding mental care for teenagers often make it difficult for them to receive mental aid. We request that you enable easier access to help by not requiring parental consent and signing Senate Bill 491 into law.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Baker131313 via Wikimedia Commons

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91 Signatures

  • Eric von Borstel
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  • jeff hopkins
  • Mal Gaff
  • Nancy Petersen
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