Set up a psychiatric advance directive (PAD)

A psychiatric advance directive (PAD) is a legal document completed in a time of wellness that provides instructions regarding treatment or services one wishes to have or not have during a mental health crisis when a person is unable to make or communicate decisions.

The PAD allows you to specify considerations about your mental health care treatment and appoint an agent who may make decisions about your treatment when you are unable to make these for yourself. In some cases, you may also give further background information about how you have reacted to past treatment.

The reason to have an advance directive is this: When you are hospitalized for a mental health condition or going through a crisis situation, you might get too sick to stay in charge of your treatment. At those times, doctors and other people may make decisions about your care and treatment that you do not want.

You need someone else to make decisions for you, but only until the mental health crisis is over. The advance directive is a temporary directive. It doesn’t mean you give up control forever.

The best way to create an advanced directive is to work with your current support person and think about how you would like to receive treatment. Click here to follow 4 steps for creating a PAD.

The worksheet below is not a legally binding PAD, but it walks you through the steps of creating one. Each state has different legal forms and requirements, so you will need to look up the process for wherever you live.

This worksheet is an excerpt from Mental Health America’s 2019 Family Caregivers Toolkit.


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