The World Health Organization estimates that about 1 in 7 people between the ages of 10 and 19 suffer from some kind of mental health disorder. Globally, this adds up to nearly 186 million adolescents in need of help–many of whom are left undiagnosed or untreated.
Oftentimes, young people resist seeking out therapeutic services due to fear of their parents finding out. This could stem from many things, including feelings of embarrassment, wish for privacy, and risk of judgment or disapproval. Fortunately, there are many avenues through which a person can receive therapy without parental consent, enabling them to seek treatment free of stigma.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to get therapy without parents knowing, diving into the different options available for support while remaining discreet.
- Can I go to a Psychiatrist without Parental Consent?
- Is Therapy Always Confidential?
- How to Get Therapy Without Parents Knowing: Options to Explore
- Alternate Approaches for Improving Your Mental Health
- Importance of Treating Mental Health in Adolescents
Can I go to a Psychiatrist without Parental Consent?
Most states in the U.S. require minors under the age of 18 to provide proof of parental consent if they wish to receive psychiatric treatment. This is because a physician cannot provide therapy without the consent of the patient, and minors cannot consent.
However, there is no country-wide law dictating this. For example, in the state of California, minors as young as 12 may seek mental health care without the knowledge of either parent. Other states may offer exceptions for minors who fall under specific circumstances like immediate endangerment or if they are victims of substance abuse.
It is best to research the laws of your state before losing hope about seeking therapy without parental consent.
Is Therapy Always Confidential?
If your therapist is a licensed professional, they are obligated by law to keep all conversations held between the two of you strictly private. That means that if they were to violate those terms and inform your parents of your meetings, they could face a fine or penalty.
However, it is important to note that this confidentiality may be broken if the therapist senses danger to the patient themselves or those around them. They are then required to inform authorities or someone who can keep the patient safe from physical harm.
How to Get Therapy Without Parents Knowing: Options to Explore
If you want to seek therapy without your parents knowing, there are some methods you can explore.
Below are some possible options for receiving therapy without parental consent.
1. Community Services
Many non-profit organizations offer free or low-cost healthcare services to residents of their community. These may be in the form of mental health clinics, providing treatment for common illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and stress. Often these clinics offer specialized treatment, so it is best to do your research and visit the organization best suited for your needs.
2. Counseling at School
Most schools are required by law to hire a counselor available on campus for the student body. They are trained professionals who provide free advice on both academic-related issues as well as personal problems a student may be dealing with.
Search on your school or university’s website for the office hours of any student counselor on campus. Once found, schedule an appointment to meet in person. Be assured that whatever conversation you have with your counselor may remain confidential from your parents, unless they believe there is a risk to your safety.
3. Calling a Warm Line
If you are wary of meeting with a therapist in-person, you can contact a warm line for support. This is a free-of-cost phone service that provides individuals with a listening ear during tough times. It is generally run by peers who have had their own experiences with mental health issues in the past and are now trained to help others.
Unlike a suicide or emergency hotline, this phone service is not only for crisis situations. You can contact a warm line any time you feel low or anxious as a means of support.
4. Online Therapy Platforms
Many online therapy platforms offer anonymous therapeutic services from licensed professionals at a low cost. After signing up on a dedicated website or app, you can communicate with your online therapist whenever you wish, all from the comfort of your own home. Before sharing any personal details online, however, be sure to research the credibility of the platform you choose to ensure you do not get scammed.
If you’re unsure of what to discuss with your online therapist in your first meeting, watch this video for some tips:
Alternate Approaches for Improving Your Mental Health
If you believe receiving professional therapy without your parents’ knowledge is too big of a decision, there are other options for support. Below are other ways you may be able to improve your mental health while you are a minor.
Confiding in Friends
Having a solid group of friends who encourage you during your low points may help you on the road to recovery. Choose a few of your most trusted companions and sit down for a serious conversation about where you stand emotionally. As your friends offer insights and advice based on how well they know you as a person, you may be able to gain a fresh perspective on your problems.
Digital Support Groups
Social media sites like Facebook and Reddit facilitate interactions with people all over the world, hosting online groups filled with individuals helping each other cope with mental illnesses. Search for a community of people you resonate with and start participating in their interactions online. You can even join anonymously, ensuring privacy from everyone you know in the real world (including your parents).
If you don’t feel like discussing your problems with anyone, you can explore solo activities designed to boost emotional well-being. This includes tasks like journaling, physical exercise, music, or art. Additionally, you can listen to podcasts or read self-help books designed to boost morale and instill confidence, guiding you with effective techniques to manage your mental health.
Importance of Treating Mental Health in Adolescents
An individual’s teenage years are crucial for their development. As the body adapts to its physical changes, the mind is on an emotional rollercoaster, tasked with understanding key aspects like personal identity, social acceptance, body image, and independence. Juggling these thoughts with academic and filial responsibilities can lead to mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and behavioral issues.
Failing to address the mental health issues in adolescents will guarantee long-term effects on their physical and mental well-being, as well as fewer opportunities to lead a satisfying life once they become adults. If left untreated, these issues can escalate, resulting in permanent damage to an individual’s personality. In extreme cases, adolescents may even turn to self-harming or suicide as a way to cope.