Should 12-year-olds be able to seek mental health treatment without parents?

DENVER - “When my son was nine years old he attempted suicide in his elementary school.”

That is what State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-Adams) shares willingly to colleagues at the State Capitol

Michaelson Jenet’s story is not an uncommon one. Colorado routinely ranks among the worst in the nation for teenage suicide.

Colorado is third in nation for suicides of youth 10-14, sixth in nation for teenage suicide overall and it is the number one cause of death of children 10-18,” Jenet said. 

Part of Jenet’s mission at the State Capitol this year has been to better improve mental health treatment for Colorado’s youth and that includes HB 1120.

HB 1120, which is being debated in  a Senate Committee Monday, would allow children 12 years old and older the ability to seek mental health treatment without parental notification in many circumstances.

15-year-olds are already allowed to do this.

“We have to figure out how we can help our kids,” Jenet said.

Jenet added that talking to her son was part of the inspiration behind this bill.

“What happens was he stopped trusting his therapists because every time he would talk to his therapist, his therapist would call in mom and dad,” Jenet said.

The measure has support from organizations like One Colorado but it also has opposition.

“The concern here is parental rights. Parents are being left out of the process,” Carolyn Martin, an advocate for Christian Home Educators of Colorado said.

Martin testifying Monday that parents of young children should be informed what is happening with their child.

“Parents need to know what’s going on with their kids,” Martin said.

Governor Polis during a morning press conference was asked whether he supported the measure. The Governor did not say one way or another if he would sign it.

“We will be happy to review that bill it hasn’t passed yet,” Polis said.

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