BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 543
          Author:   Leno (D)
          Amended:  5/13/09
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  3-0, 5/5/09
          AYES: Corbett, Florez, Leno
          NO VOTE RECORDED: Harman, Walters


           SUBJECT  :    Minors:  consent to mental health treatment

           SOURCE  :     National Association of Social Workers
                      Mental Health America of Northern California
                      Equality California
                      GSA Network


           DIGEST  :    This bill authorizes a minor who is 12 years of  
          age or older to consent to mental health treatment or  
          counseling on an outpatient basis or to residential shelter  
          services, if specified conditions are met.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law authorizes a minor who is 12  
          years of age or older to consent to mental health treatment  
          or counseling, except as specified, on an outpatient basis,  
          or to residential shelter services, if two circumstances  
          are satisfied.  First, the minor, in the opinion of the  
          attending professional person, must be mature enough to  
          participate intelligently in the outpatient services or  
          residential shelter services.  Second, the minor must  
          present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to  
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          himself or herself, or others, without the treatment  
          counseling, or be the alleged victim of incest or child  
          abuse.  (Family Code Section 6924.)

          Existing law requires that a professional person offering  
          residential shelter services make his or her best efforts  
          to notify the parent or guardian of the provision of those  
          services.  (Family Code Section 6924.)

          Existing law provides that the mental health treatment or  
          counseling of a minor must include the involvement of the  
          minor's parent or guardian unless, in the opinion of the  
          professional person who is treating or counseling the  
          minor, the involvement would be inappropriate.  (Family  
          Code Section 6924.)

          This bill instead authorizes a minor who is 12 years of age  
          or older to consent to mental health treatment or  
          counseling, except as specified, on an outpatient basis, or  
          to residential shelter services, if either of these  
          conditions is satisfied:  (1) the minor, in the opinion of  
          the attending professional person, is mature enough to  
          participate intelligently in the outpatient services or  
          residential shelter services; or (2) the minor (a) presents  
          a danger of serious physical or mental harm to himself or  
          herself, or others, without the treatment or counseling; or  
          (b) the minor is the alleged victim of incest or child  
          abuse and the minor, in the opinion of the attending  
          professional person, is mature enough to participate  
          intelligently in the outpatient or residential shelter  
          services.

          This bill provides that a professional person offering  
          residential shelter services shall make his or her best  
          efforts to notify the parent or guardian of the provision  
          of services.

          This bill provides that the notification of a minor's  
          parent or guardian shall not be required when the minor is  
          receiving outpatient mental health treatment or counseling  
          services.

          This bill requires that the mental health treatment or  
          counseling of a minor include the involvement of the  







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          minor's parent or guardian, unless the professional person  
          who is treating or counseling the minor, after consulting  
          with the minor, determines that the involvement would be  
          inappropriate.

          Under existing law, the chief administrator of an agency  
          that offers mental health treatment or counseling on an  
          outpatient basis, or residential shelter services is  
          considered a "professional person" authorized to make  
          decisions with respect to a minor's mental health treatment  
          or counseling.  (Family Code Section 6924.)  However,  
          existing law does not require that an agency administrator  
          actually be licensed in order to provide mental health  
          treatment to minors.

          The bill provides that a chief administrator may only  
          provide mental health treatment or counseling to a minor if  
          he or she is one of the licensed professionals enumerated  
          in Section 6924, subsection (3), subdivisions (A-F).

          The bill also adds licensed clinical social workers  
          regulated under the Business and Professions Code and one  
          qualified to offer mental health treatment and counseling.

           Background

           In 2004, California voters passed Proposition 63, the  
          Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), which provides increased  
          funding, personnel, and other resources to support county  
          mental health programs and monitor progress toward  
          statewide goals or children, adolescent youth, adults, and  
          families.  The MHSA imposed a one percent income tax on  
          personal income in excess of $1 million.

          Community stakeholders groups consisting of consumers,  
          families, and service organizations have met to identify  
          barriers to consumer populations not only for MHSA  
          programs, but for all mental health services.  This bill  
          seeks to address the identified barrier of parental consent  
          for youth seeking mental health services. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  No    
          Local:  No








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           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/13/09)

          National Association of Social Workers (co-source)
          Mental Health America of Northern California (co-source)
          Equality California (co-source)
          GSA Network (co-source)
          California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
          California Communities United Institute
          California Youth Empowerment Network
          Children's Law Center of Los Angeles
          Disability Rights California
          San Francisco Family and Child Guidance Clinic

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author's office,  
          parental consent for mental health services can create a  
          barrier, especially in prevention and early intervention  
          programs where the youth may not be experiencing serious  
          physical or mental harm.  The author's office asserts that  
          this barrier is especially harmful to certain populations  
          of youth including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender  
          youth, youth from abusive or neglectful homes, youth from  
          immigrant families, homeless youth, and youth whose  
          cultural backgrounds do not condone mental health services.  
           The author's office states that this bill will help ensure  
          that youth do not have to wait until their mental health  
          deteriorates, and their safety is compromised by suicide,  
          substance abuse, or violence to receive services.


          RJG:cm  5/13/09   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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