Bill of Rights for Children with Mental Health Disorders and their Families. The children’s mental health coalition has created a Bill of Rights for Children with Mental Health Disorders and their Families. The coalition includes the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the Autism Society of America (ASA), the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF), Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (FFCMH), Mental Health America (MHA), and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

“This Bill of Rights represents the standard of what families living with mental illnesses should expect from treatment,” said AACAP’s President, Robert Hendren, D.O. “Children do better when they receive consistent, tailored treatment. Few children receive any treatment and fewer still receive the sustained, quality care that they require.”

The Bill of Rights was created because of the inconsistency of accessible mental healthcare services throughout the country.

The Bill of Rights:

  1. Treatment must be family- driven and child-focused. Families and youth, (when appropriate), must have a primary decision-making role in their treatment.
  2. Children should receive care in home and community-based settings as close to home as possible.
  3. Mental health services are an integral part of a child’s overall healthcare. Insurance companies must not discriminate against children with mental illnesses by imposing financial burdens and barriers to treatment, such as differential deductibles, co-pays, annual or lifetime caps, or arbitrary limits on access to medically necessary inpatient and/or outpatient services.
  4. Children should receive care from highly- qualified professionals who are acting in the best interest of the child and family, with appropriate informed consent.
  5. Parents and children are entitled to as much information as possible about the risks and benefits of all treatment options, including anticipated outcomes.
  6. Children receiving medications for mental disorders should be monitored appropriately to optimize the benefit and reduce any risks or potential side effects which may be associated with such treatments.
  7. Children and their families should have access to a comprehensive continuum of care, based on their needs, including a full range of psychosocial, behavioral, pharmacological, and educational services, regardless of the cost.
  8. Children should receive treatment within a coordinated system of care where all agencies (e.g., health, mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, and schools, etc.) delivering services work together to support recovery and optimize treatment outcome.
  9. Children and families are entitled to an increased investment in high-quality research on the origin, diagnosis, and treatment of childhood disorders.
  10. Children and families need and deserve access to mental health professionals with appropriate training and experience. Primary care professionals providing mental health services must have access to consultation and referral resources from qualified mental health professionals.

Following are some major laws and regulations relevant to children’s mental health:

Public Law (P.L.) 94-142 (1975). The original Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Commonly known as The Education for All Handicapped Children Act. A federal law that guarantees a free, appropriate public education for all children with disabilities. Also known as 94-142.

Public Law (P.L.) 96-272 (1980). Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. Federal law outlining procedures for the placement of children out of home by state child welfare agencies.

Public Law (P.L.) 96-389 (1980). Mental Health Systems Act. Encourages the development of systems of care. Policies contained in the Act received no specific funding.

Public Law (P.L.) 99-319 (1986). Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act of 1986. Federal law allocating funds to each state for advocacy activities on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities or mental illness.

Public Law (P.L.) 99-457 (1986). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendment of 1986. Guarentees free appropriate early intervention (birth through age two) (Part H) and special education (age three to twenty-one) (Part B).

Public Law (P.L.) 101-336 (1990). Americans with Disabilities Act.

Public Law (P.L.) 102-119 (1991). Amendment and Reauthorization of IDEA.   (1990) Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Guarantees free appropriate early intervention (Part H) and special education (Part B).

Public Law (P.L.) 102-321. Child Mental Health Services Program.   Section 504. A part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974. This section states that no program or activity receiving federal funds can exclude, deny benefits to, or discriminate against any person on the basis of disability. It also requires access for people who have disabilities to all public buildings. Also known as 504.

Title IV-E. Also known as Public Law (P.L.) 96-272 or Title IV-E of The Social Security Act.

Title XIX (19). Federal program of medical aid designed for those unable to afford fee for service medical care (Medicaid). With a Medicaid card, individuals can purchase medical service as needed in the community. Part of the Social Security Act.

Title XX (20). Federal program supports social services at the state and local level contingent on the development of a plan which includes the goals and target groups for such services. Part of the Social Security Act.