As the rate of teen depression rises across the country, Washington State is no exception. In its 2019 survey assessing youth depression statistics, Mental Health America (MHA) found that 13 percent of youth ages 12–17 in Washington suffered from major depression during the past year.
In addition, the report found that a vast majority of adolescents with depression are not receiving treatment. In fact, the MHA survey determined that 62 percent of youth with major depression do not receive any Washington State mental health services.
Therefore, 39,000 young people in the state who are suffering from depressive symptoms did not receive care. Washington ranks at number 25 among the states in terms of access to youth mental healthcare.
New Washington State Mental Health Laws Permit Parents to Request Youth Mental Healthcare
The statistics clearly show that many of the state’s teens and young adults are in need of mental health and substance abuse treatment. But until recently, Washington State mental health laws allowed individuals over age 13 to refuse mental healthcare. Consequently, parents couldn’t initiate appointments with a mental health professional unless their teenage children agreed to it—even when the teens urgently needed assessment and treatment.
However, that has changed with the passage of House Bill 1874, which went into effect in July 2019. Teens can still independently make the decision to enter treatment. But the new law allows parents and guardians to request care for mental health or substance abuse disorders without the minor’s consent, for outpatient or inpatient treatment.
Whether or not they have the legal right to initiate an assessment for their teen, parents often find that their adolescent resists treatment. Here are five tips for overcoming teen resistance.
- Find out exactly what they’re concerned about so you know how to address their specific fears.
- Use an analogy that reframes the situation: For example, therapy is in some ways like working with a coach to learn new skills.
- Make an agreement that they will go to a set number of therapy sessions (at least five) before deciding whether or not to continue treatment.
- Try an online therapist. Some teenagers may feel more comfortable when there’s a physical distance between them and the clinician.
- Go to therapy as a family. Teens are less likely to feel singled out, if everyone participates in the process.