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February 01, 2016

New Jersey teens can now get therapy without parents' permission

New law, which applies to those 16 and older, passed thanks to lobbying effort from a group of young people

A group of teenagers in New Jersey successfully lobbied for a new law that will allow those 16 and older access to therapy without their parents' permission.

As Newsworks reported, young people at the Boys & Girls Club of Hudson County believed that changing the law could help prevent teen suicides, especially amongst LGBT kids.

Many adolescents aren't comfortable with disclosing their mental health issues to their parents. Some parents may even refuse to let their children go to counseling.

"I wasn't able to go and get help when I needed it, because my mother refused," one young person named Jordan told Newsworks.

Related story: Penn State senior class gives gift of mental health

The law is particularly relevant because youth are at greater risk when they are in conflict with their family. For example, according to the National Runaway Safeline, children who are abused are more likely to run away or become homeless, and gay youth are eight times more likely to attempt suicide if their family rejects them, The Trevor Project reports.

LGBT youth are particularly at risk: One in five homeless youth are LGBT, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. One survey found that an astonishing 62 percent of homeless LGBT youth had attempted to commit suicide.

The Boys & Girls Club members, who were part of a community service extension called The Keystone Club, presented in front of legislators and persuaded Assemblymen Carmelo Garcia and Raj Mukherji to sponsor the bill.

"Our teamwork was the only way we could have done this. It shows teens all over that they have voices," said Jordan.

Read the full story here.

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