After observing the frequency and severity of the symptoms your mentee is exhibiting, contact your program coordinator. If you are mentoring informally, you can contact another helping professional, such as the school nurse, for advice. He or she can then contact the mentee’s family to further discuss the situation and help them access medical services to address the health issues. Under no circumstances, except a life-threatening emergency, should you take direct action to seek medical care for your mentee.
Your program coordinator, with parental consent, can inform you about the medical conditions or needs your mentee might have, and you can appropriately adapt your relationship to accommodate these needs. If your mentee is a teenager, federal and state laws may allow him to seek medical services without parental consent. Consequently, you may be able to provide information to them about options for medical services he can seek on his own, such as substance abuse or family planning services, mental health services, or HIV testing. The rights of teens to seek such medical services will differ from state to state, so it is imperative that you speak first with your program coordinator about the wisdom of this action and to be sure you are sharing accurate information with your mentee. As one of our mentors frequently observed, “It is one thing to have an opinion on an important matter; it is something else entirely to have an informed opinion.”
Reprinted with permission from The Mentor’s Field guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed by Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick; Questions about the Mentoring Relationship, Question 40. Reprinted with permission from Search Institute®, Copyright © 2012 Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN; 877-240-7251, ext. 1; http://www.search-institute.org. All rights reserved