Wondering if you can see a psychiatrist without your parent’s consent? In a lot of countries, if you are under 18, it will be difficult without your parents’ knowledge, as you will likely need their approval. However, there are some exceptions. If you are legally allowed to consent to mental health services following the laws and acts within your geographical location, then you would be able to see a psychiatrist without your parent’s knowledge. However, if you are under the legal age to offer informed consent as an adult in your geographical location, you’ll need your parent’s informed consent to see a psychiatrist.
For the purpose of this post, we’ll be primarily focusing on the United States. Even then, it gets tricky to give a definitive answer, as laws differ between states. So the ability to cover all laws around the world is a task to large for us at this time!
Many people deal with mental health concerns or issues and wish to seek help. As a minor, getting the help you need may not be easy without your parents’ knowledge. Wanting to see a psychiatrist without your parents may leave them with mixed feelings. However, this could be an important step in fostering empowerment and a sense of being in control of your life.
Although in a perfect world, you would hope that you could talk to your parents about needing additional support and help and they would be there to support you without judgment, not everyone feels like they can or is able to do so. Having your parents involved with your mental health care may just not be possible or healthy. So, how can you get support without your parent’s involvement?
For a list of mental health resources & crisis phone/text lines based around the world, please click here.
Related Reading: Can You See a Gynecologist Without Your Parents Knowing?
Is Seeing a Psychiatrist Without Parental Consent Possible?
The quick answer is that it relies on individual state law because there is no national statute that covers US-wide permission for the treatment of children. So, starting with the legal elements, it is better to find out “straight from the horse’s mouth” by contacting your state’s psychology board. They can tell you if seeing a psychiatrist without parental authorization is possible where you reside.
For a complete breakdown on the State Laws on Minor Consent for Routine Medical Care, including mental health services, visit: https://medicalmutual.com
Suppose you are under the age of 18. In that case, it is difficult to see a psychiatrist without your parents’ knowledge, as many states require parental authorization to consult a psychiatrist if you are considered a minor.
Your parent’s signature will be needed if you’re under the legal age to give informed consent as an adult in your state. This is because any type of treatment, whether medical or psychological, requires the patient’s informed agreement, and, by law, children are not able to give that informed agreement; therefore, their parents must consent on their behalf (up till age 18 in most states).
Therefore, the possibility of seeing a psychiatrist without parental consent/knowledge is entirely dependent on your location. Each state has its own regulations regarding the age at which it is permissible to seek mental health care sans parental consent.
The tricky part is that, if you’ve never seen that particular psychiatrist you want to go to, they might be hesitant to have you sign informed consent paperwork without your parents’ knowledge because there could be physical or psychological harm to you if and when your parents find out.
Fear not, as most psychiatrists are trained to respect your privacy and act in your best interests provided it is legally possible for them to do so.
Certain Circumstances Do Not Require Parental Consent
There are loopholes to the parental consent requirement, as there are to any rules. Some states, such as California, enable adolescents from 12 to consent to treatment for mental health issues.
However, children can only consent to treatment under particular circumstances in many states. Emancipation is one such circumstance. When a minor is granted emancipation from their parents by a court, they are treated as adults who can make all of their own decisions.
Consenting to treatment by a psychiatrist is part of this. Typically, a minor obtain court-ordered independence by filing an appeal and demonstrating to the court that they are self-sufficient and don’t rely on parents to support them.
Why Seeing a Psychiatrist Without Your Parents Can Be Beneficial
Without a parent or guardian present, you are more likely to gain confidence in discussing any mental health concerns you might have and the ability to share any experiences bothering you. This is especially true if you are primarily seeking help for issues related to your parents or your household (I.e., interpersonal issues with your family members). You will also learn to build trust with your psychiatrist, which is a crucial aspect of the success of many treatments.
Private consultations with a psychiatrist provide an excellent atmosphere for being entirely honest and transparent about your concerns and thoughts. Due to embarrassment or anxiety about disappointing your parents, you may feel uneasy or apprehensive about airing out your feelings in their presence. Many caring parents would be very open to the idea of their child seeking mental health support solo, so if your parents are typically open and supportive of your independence and privacy, it may be best to just ask them.
Related Reading: Why We Need Family Support
What Challenges Can You Face When Seeking Support Alone?
Even if the law allows you to see a psychiatrist without parental approval, that isn’t the end of the matter.
Your Psychiatrist Could Inform Your Parents
Children’s confidentiality is a touchy subject. Minors are sometimes not deemed mature enough to consent to treatment in many countries. Thus, your parents would be expected to consent on your behalf should you require any treatment (medication or therapeutic).
Healthcare professionals, like psychiatrists, are prohibited from disclosing information about a patient, including to their parents, due to client confidentiality. Only if there is reason to suspect you’re in danger of serious harm or death will your psychiatrist share this information with your parents or other appropriate parties, such as the police.
However, many states have a duty to report child abuse to the appropriate authorities so, if you are seeking help for abuse-related trauma (even in your past), you should be aware that this is a possible outcome.
Different states have different ages at which confidentiality becomes a legal right. Therefore, if you are over the age requirements in your home state and there is no danger of harm or death, the psychiatrist will not be able to share your health information. That is unless you grant written consent to share your information with specific parties.
Minors 13 and up in certain states, like Washington, have similar, if not identical, rights to seek mental health care and still have any information they divulge protected as to adults.
Psychiatrists Charge a Lot of Money
Payment is, as always, a concern. Seeing a psychiatrist will cost you a hefty amount of money depending on where you are located, whether or not you have insurance, and what kind of treatment you need.
The typical rate a psychiatrist charge is roughly $100 to $300 per session. You should anticipate getting charged up to $500 for the first session and around $100 per hour for follow-ups.
Is it possible for you to pay for a psychiatrist on your own? If you can pay for yourself and you are above the age of consent for your state, your parents will not be aware. If you’re a student at a university or college that offers mental health support, go through your school and request that no one noticed your parents.
A psychiatrist might well be willing to work with you to reduce the cost of your appointments in some instances. The most straightforward approach to lower the price is to use your insurance. Carefully check and see whether your insurance plan provides mental health coverage.
See if you can obtain a copy of your medical insurance card if you have it. You’ll need the medical insurance company’s name, phone number, policy number, and group number.
If you’re having trouble getting such information, phone the doctor you’ve seen before and ask for the medical insurance information they have on record. Then, get the psychiatrist’s name, address, and phone number and call to verify whether they accept your insurance. Be aware that this information may, and likely will, be available to the policyholder in a list of services accessed for the year. Therefore, if you are still on your parents’ insurance, they will likely see that you have used the benefits to see a psychiatrist.
What to Do if Your Parents Cancel Your Psychiatrist Sessions
Suppose your parents find out about your plan and forbid you from seeing a psychiatrist. What other options do you have? If your parents refuse to sign off on psychiatry sessions and you are below the age of consent, the good news is that you have many options.
Without parental approval, minors seeking counseling should begin in their institutions. Most schools have a qualified counselor on staff that children can meet with during the day. Speaking with your favorite teacher can also be helpful.
Friends are also incredibly important for continued mental health support. Having a close buddy with whom you feel comfortable sharing what’s actually going on in your life can assist you in dealing with whatever situation you find yourself in.
There are worldwide online communities that you can join where you will be speaking with people facing similar mental health concerns or struggles. This will help you feel better as you realize that you aren’t alone. Furthermore, because these communities are online, there’s a guarantee that there will always be someone to talk to should you feel the need to unload.
Mental health is important and, although some parents would not advocate for their child going to a psychiatrist without their knowledge, prioritizing your needs and getting help is important.