Ministry hoping to grant minors right to seek psychiatric care

Minors may soon be able to seek psychiatric help without the consent of a parent.
Minors may soon be able to seek psychiatric help without the consent of a parent. Source: ERR

The Ministry of Social Affairs is to review the Mental Health Act with the aim of granting minors the right to seek psychiatric help without the consent of a parent or the court.

The ministry agrees with the proposal of the chancellor of justice according to which a minor who, as determined by a medical doctor, is able to make decisions at their own discretion must not only be granted the opportunity to seek help as they see fit, but also receive it immediately if medically justified.

In order to implement this change, psychiatrists, similarly to other medical doctors, need the right to assess whether or not a minor who has turned to them is sufficiently mature to weigh all aspects related to their treatment.

The absence of a parent's consent, whether it is due to their stay abroad, unwillingness to acknowledge a problem, or in situations in which involving the parent is not in the interests of a minor, must not pose an obstacle, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Centre) said in a letter to Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise.

The ministry noted that it is nonetheless important that doctors explain to a minor capable of making decisions on their own behalf that generally speaking, it is necessary to inform the parent of the situation, and that they ensure that not disclosing the minor's need for psychiatric help to their parent should be an exception made in cases in which the child is at risk of domestic violence or abuse or if the parent themselves has mental health issues due to which their inclusion would not be in the best interests of the minor.

The ministry added that the Mental Health Act, which entered into effect over 20 years ago, has become obsolete and needs to be reviewed in its entirety.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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