The new law, signed by the governor on July 23, strives to reduce confusion around implementation of a 2004 law.
Act 147 of 2004 established that minors between the ages of 14-18 and their parents each have the right to consent to and to refuse mental health treatment on behalf of the minor. The law includes an expedited hearing process to address instances when a minor and his/her parents disagree on whether or what type of treatment is needed.
Act 65 of 2020 is intended to guide teens, parents and providers as they navigate the inherently difficult waters of dual authority.
The clarifications include:
- Parents can consent to inpatient treatment when it is deemed medically necessary.
- A teen has full authority to seek treatment.
- When either a parent or teen has consented, the other cannot override the decision without pursuing a hearing.
However parents and teens can access the courts for a determination of the need for treatment If a petition under this law is filed, a hearing is to be held within 72 hours. A hearing is also available if parents disagree with each other about the need for treatment. The Act 65 hearing appears intended to occur outside the civil custody arena.
Act 65 also contains provisions to require written notice to teens of their right to object to treatment and requires court-appointed counsel for teens who oppose inpatient treatment authorized by parents. The law also includes a hearing process to continue inpatient treatment if the teen objects.
Under the law, parents are provided access to mental health records needed to provide consent to treatment. Similarly parents can authorize the release of records as needed to inform treatment providers of the teen’s needs. When the teen has authorized treatment, he/she maintains control over the release of records.
Bottom Line for Schools
Schools do not provide mental health services. However, awareness of these consent provisions is important to staff that may be in a position to discuss services and collaborate with mental health providers. In addition, school SAP Teams must keep these consent provisions in mind as they refer students for mental health services.
If you have a question, please contact your legal counsel or one of the attorneys at KingSpry.
School Law Bullets are a publication of KingSpry’s Education Law Practice Group. This article is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.