Snyder: Clarity in state law needed regarding mental health age of consent for minors

HARRISBURG, March 5 – Mental health providers, parents and children older than 14 deserve and need clear guidelines regarding consent for mental health treatment, said state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington.

Snyder, along with state Reps. Jason Ortitay, R-Allegheny/Washington, and Marcia Hahn, R-Northampton, soon will introduce legislation to update Act 147 of 2004, which allows minors the right to consent to mental health treatment, regardless of parental consent. Snyder said the law also allows minors to refuse treatment, even if the parent provides consent. Despite previous efforts to clarify the law’s provisions, Snyder said confusion still exists with parents, minors and mental health providers.

“A 14- to 18-year-old child who may already be dealing with a mental health issue is not in a position to make such a monumental decision regarding their care,” Snyder said. “A decision of this magnitude should be in the hands of their parent or legal guardian. These children need guidance and support in making such a decision, especially if they’re already struggling with a mental health concern.”

Snyder said their legislation would repeal sections of the act that are unclear and leading to confusion, and will replace those sections with clearer language that’s easier to understand.

“These parents and providers want to do what’s right for a child, and our efforts will ensure they can do so, without ambiguity,” Snyder said.