Parents want to help their kids. Teens want authority over their mental health care. One state tries to balance both

A bill in Washington state offers parents more say in the mental health care of children over 13, while still giving teenagers authority over their treatment.

More than three decades ago, lawmakers in Washington state set the age of consent for mental health care at 13 to make it possible for teenagers to seek treatment without needing to involve their parents. That law also lets anyone over age 13 refuse mental health care — and keep all the details about their treatment private.

“The kid saying ‘no’ means you can’t even initiate an appointment,” said Dr. Carol Rockhill, a psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “The parents are often in a very different place, feeling stuck and wanting

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