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Advance Directive For Mental Health

Advance Directive for Mental Health Compared To Advance Directives For Healthcare

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An advance directive for healthcare permits you to keep in control of your healthcare even if you become unable to communicate.

The two types of documents are similar in that they only take effect when you are unable to make a decision.

The main differences are:

  • Advance directives for health care generally only come into play at end-of-life. Directives for mental health can be used at any time if you become mentally incapacitated.
  • You have an absolute right to decide what health care you do or do not want. With mental health, the extent of the right and the protection it provides from forced treatments vary from state to state. As a general matter, your instructions cannot limit the state’s authority to take you into protective custody, or to involuntarily admit or commit you to a treatment facility.
  • Every state has enacted some form of advance written health care directive law which is intended to provide a mechanism for clearly and formally expressing health care choices.  Many states have enacted laws about mental health care directives. In the states where there is no specific law about mental health care directives, it is generally assumed that health care directives also can include mental care directives. (For more about state laws, see State Laws Which Govern Advance Directives, below.)

NOTE: Depending on the law in your state, a healthcare and mental health directive may be combined into one document.

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