Complications of Dealing with a Mentally Challenged Teenager

Dealing with a mentally challenged teenager?  Guest Blogger Noel da Silva, Family Law Lawyer from Brampton, Ontario talks about this issue.

Who among us, when in a social setting has not been asked for free advice in the areas of our expertise? The question put to me was, what can you do about a teenager who is hurting themselves? Another person there said you cannot force a teenager (which may be the demographic within which this problem often happens) into therapy without their consent.

The answer to this interesting question is that part 6 of the Child and Family Services Act comes to your rescue.  Child and Family Services Act.  You may not like the details of the answer. Yes, a parent can apply to the court to have their teenager “committed to a secure treatment”. But here are some of the problems. You have to apply to a court. The treatment centre administrator must consent in writing. This I presume means there is room at the centre. It has to have a treatment program and that program has to be effective to treat the particular teenager.

Since admission is only by way of a court order this brings one to the next area of complexity. The court must be persuaded by trustworthy evidence, the teenager needs to have legal representation, the court has to have a hearing and oral evidence may be called. The teenager has a right to be present. The court may order an assessment. It also wants evidence of mental disorder. This likely involves a medical report. The teenager has to have caused or attempted serious bodily harm within the last 45 days. The court wants to know there is no other less restrictive form of treatment that would be effective.

There are other sections of the act that are relevant. When you think about these requirements you will ask all sorts of other questions. One practical issue is the cost of such an application to court and how the average family could afford this procedure. This clearly is something you do for very serious cases, when voluntary consensual solutions are not possible. There is a moral to the story. It is that we as parents need to protect our children better. There is much, much more to learn for everyone of us about this question.

Please find Noel da Silva’s contact information below:
Suite 200, 201 County Court Blvd.
Brampton, Ontario L6W 4L2
Telephone: +(905) 457.1660
Facsimile: +(905) 457.5641

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