It can sometimes be overwhelming to speak to people about your mental health.
We've developed this section to help you understand that your privacy and wellbeing will always be put first.
No matter how old you are, who you live with or what your experience with mental health is, you deserve to be treated fairly and given the same rights as everyone else.
When you seek help with your mental health from a service, the information that you give them is kept private. Nobody besides the people in charge of your treatment are allowed to access your personal information (such as your name and your diagnosis). You have the right for this information to be kept confidential, unless you are under the age of 16, in which case your information may be shared with your parents or guardian. All your information will be stored safely in private files.
Although your information will always be kept confidential, we recommend speaking to a parent, guardian, or teacher – keeping your school informed can allow you to build a support network whilst you are going through treatment. It is also important to know that once given, you can always remove your consent if you feel as though their knowledge of this is no longer helpful to you.
More info: Privacy
- Treatment options
If you are over the age of 16 then you are allowed to consent to your own treatment – young people over the age of 16 are treated in the same way as adults, and it is assumed that you can decide your own medical treatment (unless there's significant evidence to suggest otherwise). You also have the right to refuse treatment, unless it is judged that you lack the mental capacity to make this decision (See Mental capacity tab below).
If you are under the age of 16, then a responsible adult must make your treatment options for you. This is usually a parent, a legal guardian, or local authority. However, it is important to remember that the people offering treatment have your wellbeing in mind and that the adults around you can be a valuable support network.
Your doctor or therapist should keep you well informed about the potential risks and side-effects of whatever treatment you might need – you should have all the information before you have to make any decisions. Although some people don't like the idea of a diagnosis and being 'labelled', the reason that doctors give diagnoses is because they allow the best treatment option to be chosen, due to the fact that they have been tested before and proven to work. For example, antidepressants combined with therapy work well to help combat depression, and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) works well to combat anxiety. There is no stigma attached to receiving a diagnosis, it is simply there to help you and your doctor figure out the best way for you to feel better.
- Mental capacity
Capacity is the ability to use and understand information to make a decision, and to communicate the decision that you have made. Someone might lack capacity if they have an illness or injury that prevents them from thinking clearly, such as schizophrenia, dementia, a severe learning disability or if they have consumed drugs or alcohol.
If healthcare professionals can see that you lack the capacity to make decisions about your treatment, this responsibility will be given to a parent, legal guardian or local authority (provided that they themselves have the mental capacity to make this decision for you).
Under the Mental Health Act, people can be admitted to hospital (sectioned) and treated without their agreement if healthcare professionals can see that they could do harm to themselves or others.
If you have been sectioned for your protection, doctors have the right to treat you without consent, including medication.
There will never be just one person in charge of reviewing your treatment needs; your doctor will be working with a second professional to determine what is best for you.
When sectioned, depending on the reason for your sectioning, you will be staying in a ward that is specific to your age (e.g. a teen ward). Your family will be allowed to visit you, and your doctor will also discuss with you when you can leave the hospital and have permission to go outside for certain amounts of time.
More info: Inpatient Care
- Parental consent
If you are over the age of 16, you can consent to treatment without telling your parents or a guardian. They do not have to be informed about your diagnosis, treatment options or treatment choice (however we would recommend speaking to an adult that you trust if you are making treatment decisions, whether it's a teacher, grandparent or friend, as they can provide additional support).
If you are younger than 16, your parents or guardian will be informed of your diagnosis and your treatment options. You can discuss your options with this person and come to a decision about different treatments together.
More info: Privacy
This section was developed by Bella and reviewed by the the Centre's Young Champions, staff and clinicians.