WISE Action Alert for HB 782 Mental Health Access Initiative for Minors (PLEASE SHARE):
From Delegate Bagnall, sponsor of this bill: According to the Governor’s report of Suicide Prevention, in 2016 the leading cause of death for minors ages 10-14 was suicide. That’s why I’m fighting so hard for this legislation and I truly appreciate your help.
If you are D33, please call or email Delegate Saab at Sid.Saab@house.state.md.us or 410-841-3551.
Currently, Maryland statute states that a minor must be 16 years or older to consent to mental health consultation, diagnosis, and treatment. Teenagers today face many stressors that they may not want to discuss with their parents, and knowing their parents may be notified can dissuade them from seeking care. Additionally, many minors may erroneously believe that their parents should not be bothered
with their mental health problems and consequently may never seek care—talking to a provider first may help clarify why they believe this and then encourage them to work on strategies for talking to their parents.
This bill proposes allowing providers to treat minors who are 12 years old or older without notifying their parents if they believe that the disclosure will deter the minor from seeking care. The bill specifies, however, that treatment does not include medication, but rather other mental health treatment like talk therapy.
This will eliminate a barrier many minors face in seeking mental health treatment and help ensure that some of our most vulnerable young people are able to get the mental health help they need.
The bill is intended simply to create an access point. The most likely providers would be non-profits and one of the safeguards in the bill is the fact that the call would need to be made for reimbursement. The way the bill is written, the intention is always to contact the parents unless there is a reason to believe it would be detrimental to the minor or deter them from seeking care. It just means the call doesn’t have to be immediate and provides flexibility just as the substance use statute already does. The flaw in the law is that a minor who has a substance use issue can seek immediate help but a minor who has a mental health issue must be at least 16 and often they are co-occurring and managed by the same providers.
Please call or email the members of the House Health and Governmental Operations Committee today and encourage them to move this very important bill out of committee.