Bill raising concerns as it could drop the age for minors to give consent to mental health professionals
MARYLAND- Among the many highly debated bills in this years Maryland General Assembly, is one that would allow 12-year-olds to make decisions regarding their mental health.
“We live in a world where we have to protect vulnerable people, we have to protect children and this is a very dangerous bill,” Heather Sinclair, a mental health advocate, said.
SB41 would drop the age for minors to give consent to mental health professionals from 16 down to 12.
Meaning they would be able to make decisions about their diagnosis, treatment, and more without permission from a parent.
But experts, have concerns about using simply age as a determining factor.
“I think unless you look at development you don’t know what his mental age is, you only know what his number age is and that’s not sufficient to make a decision,” Dr. Kathy Seifert, owner of Eastern Shore Psychological Services, said.
The bill would also authorize a health care provider to decide to provide information to a parent or guardian of a minor, unless they believe that the disclosure could lead to harm.
Another thing that some advocates are skeptical of because they said parents need to be in the loop.
“That’s never helpful, that’s setting up a situation for abuse, because you as a parent you cant help your child if you don’t know what’s going on,” Sinclair said.
In the end, experts we spoke to said there’s no doubt the age requirement should be looked at, but they believe more input needs to happen before that happens.
“I think if we think it through and add other people’s opinions into it, I think we can find a better way to word it,” Seifert said.
This bill is cross-filed with House Bill 132.
We did reach out to sponsors for Senate Bill 41, but they were unavailable for comment.