In September 2020, PA's mental health consent law changed. This new law called, Act 65 of 2020, allows children age 14 and up to consent for their own mental health treatment which can not be overridden by their parent/legal guardian's refusal. This allowance to seek and receive treatment on their own is valuable and we fully support their right to receive the services they desire.
We also want to make sure families understand this updated law also reaffirms the fact that parents/legal guardians can consent to mental health treatment for their children, of any age, with or without the child's consent.
While we understand that in the past many providers were under the impression that children age 14 and older could refuse treatment, this new law makes it clear that that is NOT the case. Parents/legal guardians can consent to both inpatient and outpatient treatment for their child even over the child's objections.
Are you now or have you recently had trouble with a provider, hospital or residential treatment facility stating that they cannot accept your child for treatment? unless the child provides consent or are they refusing to allow you (the parent/primary caregiver) to provide consent for treatment for your child over age 14? In our effort to ensure providers across the state are in compliance with Act 65 of 2020, we’re asking that families who have or are having consent issues share their experience with us so we can follow up with the system in question to help them understand the recent update.
Learn About the New Law
We offer a variety of ways to learn about the new law. Check out our recorded webinar, our on-demand course or our 1-page tip sheet available in English and Spanish (front and back).
Sign up for this on-demand 30-minute training on Gabby's Law including a final assessment allowing you to demonstrate your understanding of the new law. Once you satisfactorily complete the course you will receive a certification of completion. To register click the button below.
What is inpatient treatment?
Mental health treatment that involves full-time overnight care inside a mental health facility.
What is outpatient treatment?
Treatment that is NOT overnight in a mental health facility; the patient goes home in between treatments, like a typical doctor appointment.
What makes inpatient treatment consent different?
If either the minor or the legal guardian rejects inpatient treatment they can file an objection
with the facility and there will be a hearing scheduled. The court would hear the case and
then decide whether or not the care is in the best interest of the minor.
What about parental disagreement to inpatient treatment?
If a parent who has legal custody rights disagrees with the other parent about consent
to a child's inpatient treatment, they can file a petition in the court of common pleas and a hearing will take place within 72 hours of the filing.
Who can consent to a minor receiving mental health treatment?
1. Parents or legal guardians
Can a parent refuse to allow treatment once a child (age 14-17) has consented?
Can a child (age 14-17) refuse treatment once a parent has consented?
What happens if a child (age 14 - 17) takes away their consent?
The treatment will be stopped UNLESS a parent or legal guardian gives their consent; in that case the treatment will continue.
What about children under the age of 14?
Parental consent is required for children under age 14 to receive mental health treatment