February 2, 2015 – Mental Health Treatment for Objecting Minors

On Friday afternoon, the House subcommittee on mental health approved an amended bill relating to a minor’s right to object to mental health treatment.  HB 1717, patroned by Delegate LeMunyon, would have extended the amount of time a child can be held without a hearing.   Currently, if an adolescent objects to treatment, he can be held against his will for four days without any court oversight.  The bill proposed extended that to five days, but the House subcommittee dropped that time extension due to potential fiscal impact.

HB 1717 also requires a treating facility to notify parents before discharging a minor and establishs a new standard for when an adolescent will be held for treatment over the young person’s objection.  If someone over the age of 14 objects to further treatment after four days, the new language requires an evaluator and a court to consider whether the young person appears to have a mental illness serious enough to warrant inpatient treatment, is reasonably likely to benefit from the treatment and has been provided with an explanation of the treatment.  The new language also asks whether all less restrictive treatment modalities have been considered.   The subcommittee agreed to the new language and to the notice to parents.

HB 1717 now moves to the full House Courts of Justice Committee.

In the Senate, two bills have already passed that address similar issues.  SB 773 (McWaters) requires parental notification when a hospitalized minor objects to further treatment and lowers to standard by which an objecting minor can be held for treatment, using language similar to HB 1717SB 779 (McWaters) extends the period of time an objecting minor can be held from 4 days to 5 days.

The mission of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is, through zealous and effective advocacy and legal representation, to protect and advance the legal, human and civil rights of people with disabilities, to combat and prevent abuse, neglect and discrimination, and to promote independence, choice and self-determination by persons with disabilities.