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Ryan LCSW, Mental Health
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 872
Experience:  Individual and Family Therapist
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My niece has decided she doesnt want to OKMH425211

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My niece has decided she doesn't want to be in touch with either of her parents (they are divorced) but she's in touch with her 3 siblings and has responded to me when I emailed her. Her parents don't know where she's living or what she's doing, and they don't want to put their other kids in the middle of their (bad) relationship with this daughter. All 4 are in their late teens and early 20s, and the daughter I'm concerned about (who is refusing contact with her parents) has been diagnosed bipolar and also has some physical problems (rheumatoid arthritis and asthma). We don't know if she is keeping up with her bipolar meds. What steps can/should the parents take in this situation. This daughter is 23. The doctor she was seeing has told the parents that he is not permitted to give them any information about whether he is treating their daughter.

Thanks for your question,

I'm sorry to hear about your niece and I can certainly understand your concern over her well-being. Unfortunately since she is legally an adult there really isn't anything that her parents can do unless they feel like she is in some type of danger, and in that case they could call the police. Since she is over 18 she will be protected by confidentiality laws, and also has the right to refuse treatment and medication even if that is not in her best interest. It is a very difficult situation for parents to be in when they have a young adult who may not necessarily know what is best for themselves, but has the legal authority to make their own decisions. Unless their niece has been determined to be mentally ill to the point where her legal rights have been turned over to her parents, there may not be much in their control right now until she is willing to communicate with them.

It is good that you've been able to maintain your relationship with her, and if you also have a good relationship with her siblings perhaps they would be willing to give you a little more information on her situation. I do understand your desire to jeopardize your relationship with her and it is important to try and avoid making decisions that would cause her to shut down that line of communication. Following her twitter account was a good idea, and overall sometimes continuing to be there for support and be a positive influence can be one of the most beneficial things for her in the long run.

If the concerns about her medications haven't already been mentioned to her siblings, that may be the best way to make sure that she is continuing to take them. It sounds like she may have a more trusting relationship with them and may be more willing to take their advice, and in that way even if she isn't willing to talk, you can at least ensure that she is staying on track personally. I definitely wish you the best with all of this, and if there is anything else I can do to help please let me know.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

This confirms what I thought: since she's not a minor she can make her own decisions (whatever the consequences). Really appreciate the feedback, and your time.