CA teens covered by Medi-Cal can access mental health services without parent consent

Amanda Aguilar Image
Thursday, July 11, 2024 12:21AM
CA teens covered by Medi-Cal can access mental health services without parent consent
California teenagers are gaining more access to mental health services, following a new law.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California teenagers are gaining more access to mental health services, following a new law.

For the past 10 years, youth covered by commercial insurance have been able to seek mental health services on their own.

Starting July 1, teens with Medi-Cal can also access services without their parent's consent.

"Being able to eliminate the disparities in mental health care access by economic class, enabling young people 12 and older, regardless of income to receive the support that they need is crucial at a time when we know many of our young people are facing mental health challenges," explained Joy Alafia, executive director for California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).

Assembly Bill 665 was authored by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2023.

Some of its supporters include CAMFT, which has more than 37,000 members.

According to Alafia, the new law will improve mental health outcomes for low-income youth, who face barriers in seeking help, such as cultural stigma.

"An adolescent might not come from such a supportive home or just might not feel comfortable, because of safety concerns, bringing their parent," she explained. "So being able to provide a pathway to mental health support is really critical in those situations."

Opponents argued the bill would leave parents uninformed about their children, especially in the area of gender identity and care. However, under the law, youth can talk to a therapist about gender identity, but cannot get any type of treatment or surgery without their parents' permission.

"They do adhere to the laws and there are certain laws that do have some age requirements with regards to consent," Alafia said.

Teens interested in setting up an appointment with a therapist can reach out to Medicare for a list of providers.

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