Age of Consent for Mental Health Treatment by State 2022

States That Allow Young Minors To Consent to Mental Health Treatment

While most states that historically made the decision to allow parents to make decisions for their children, a recent uptick in emancipation and the severity of mental health treatment have had certain states revamp their laws. Of specific note is California, which has one of the largest populations in the country. California has one of the youngest official ages for consent to mental health treatment, at just 12 years old. These laws also stipulate that the patient is also smart and mature enough to participate in their own treatment, and has the ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a healthy manner.

A minor that is 12 years of age or older in the state of California does have its limitations. For example, minors can consent to outpatient mental health treatment and even counseling through a person of a qualified profession, but cannot consent to inpatient treatment, drugs, or psychosurgery. Other states, such as Vermont and New Hampshire allow minors to consent to various treatments provided it is for something specific and diagnosable. For example, New Hampshire allows 14-year-olds to consent to mental health treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and 12-year-olds to consent to mental health treatment for alcohol or drug abuse.

States That Are Strict on Mental Health Consent

All states have some sort of law that allows minors to be diagnosed and treated for certain mental health concerns in special circumstances, with the youngest age being 12, and the generally accepted age of majority being 18 for medical care consent. the laws may be more strict in certain places, but all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) allow minors to consent to the testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. The only limitation to this rule is that HIV specifically can only be tested,, and not treated with one's own consent if you're a minor in certain circumstances.

Texas and Utah are amongst the most strict and notably, prohibit the use of funds within the state to provide contraceptive services to minors without the consent of the parents or guardian available. Another state, Iowa, provides testing on notification from the minor, but must legally inform parents or legal guardians if a positive test is received.

States That Lack Guidance on Mental Health Consent for Minors

Although most states do have laws that concern routine medical care for minors, many still do not have any specific information on consent to mental health as a result of infectious diseases or other trauma, and instead, rely on a case-by-case basis. This has certainly been brought to light lately due to the COVID 19 pandemic. For example, the states of Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas do not explicitly have any blanket law that denotes consent for infectious diseases and mental health as opposed to other states, such as California, Delaware, and Idaho.

Age of Consent for Mental Health Treatment by State 2022