Mental Health Conditions: Privacy and Telling Others
A common misperception of parents is that they are entitled to progress reports about the mental health of their child.
Mental health professionals, whether on or off campus, are ethically bound to keep what your child says during therapy confidential unless your child specifically authorizes the release of information about his or her diagnosis and treatment, or they pose a threat to themselves or others. School counseling centers and outside providers generally will not release medical information—including to family, parents/legal guardians or faculty—without written authorization. These are complex subjects, which need to be discussed and addressed with the health counseling center before your child arrives on campus.
Forms & Documentation
Some colleges ask questions about mental health history as part of the medical history form you will be asked to fill out about past immunizations and other matters. If you are returning the forms to the health counseling center (and unless the form states otherwise), your answers are protected health information and therefore confidential. No one will see them except health or counseling center personnel. Answering honestly is important. Just as you’d want the health center to know that your child had diabetes, in case your child became ill, having information about past mental health diagnoses may be vital to your child’s care.
To receive more information about the civil rights of students with disabilities in education institutions, contact:
Customer Service Team
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education
Washington, D.C. 20202-1100
TDD: 1- 877-521-2172
Web site: www.ed.gov/ocr
When ready, help your child find the language to open up. For example, if your child has a bipolar disorder, he or she might say: “Look, I want you to know something about me. Sometimes my mood changes…sometimes pretty dramatically. I just want you know that this is something I’m aware of and I’m dealing with it. So, if I’m not responsive or interacting with you like the way I am now…. chances are it has nothing to do with anything you’ve done. But, it’s okay to ask. In fact, it can be helpful.”
If your child is comfortable with his mental health condition and wants to disclose the condition, advise your child to wait until he really gets to know his friends. This life skill goes beyond mental health issues to the larger issue of development of boundaries and the placement of trust.
- Americans with Disabilities Act and Accommodations
- Connecting Your Child with Mental Health Resources on Campus
- Contact Information Every Parent Should Know
- Exploring Campus Mental Health Support Systems
- Finding the Right Off-Campus Mental Health Professional
- Four Things Every Parent Must Know About Emotional Health
- If Your Child is Worried About a Friend
- Medical Leaves of Absence
- Mental Health Conditions: Privacy and Telling Others
- Preventing Suicide: Warning Signs and How to Respond
- Suicide and College Students
- The Basics: Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Abuse
- The Basics: Anxiety Disorders
- The Basics: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- The Basics: Bipolar Disorder
- The Basics: Depression
- The Basics: Eating Disorders
- The Basics: Schizophrenia
- The Basics: Self-Injury (Cutting)
- The Proactive Parent
- Three Important Guidelines for Transitioning with a Diagnosed Condition
- Transferring Treatment to College
- Types of Mental Health Professionals
- What are Mental Health Conditions?
- What to Do When Your Student is Struggling
- Who Will Struggle with Mental Illness?