"Voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently": Protecting informed consent in school-based mental health referrals
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DeFehr, Jan N.
DeFehr, Jan N. "'Voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently': Protecting informed consent in school-based mental health referrals." Brock Education: A Journal of Educational Research & Practice, (29)(1) (2020): 6-23. DOI: 10.26522/brocked.v29i1.786.
Coherent with mental health literacy curricula, mental health assessment and referral is embedded in Canadian educational contexts. Mental health literacy excludes the substantial scholarly critique of mental health produced by psychiatry, the disciplinary base of the field of mental health. In-school student referrals to mental health professionals may similarly omit important critical information. Key critical areas of concern include scientific evidence, psychiatric drugs, psychiatric diagnosis, misinformation, and potential for harm. Professional ethics codes call for full disclosure of risk and open access to any relevant information needed for informed decision-making. Some mental health interventions commonly take place on an implied consent basis within first-time consult appointments. Consequently, parents and students require access to critical mental health knowledge before or during referral processes. Beyond aligning mental health referral with the ethical principle of informed consent, professional ethics require institutional divestment from any mental health premises and practices that cause harm and lack scientific, intellectual, and ethical integrity.