In 2004, Pennsylvania enacted legislation (Act 194) that provides the opportunity for individuals living with mental illness to create a Mental Health Advance Directive (MHAD) and plan ahead for mental health services and supports in the event they become unable to make decisions for themselves. A MHAD offers a clear written statement of an individual’s medical treatment preferences or other expressed wishes or instructions should they become incapacitated. It can also be used to assign decision-making authority to another person who can act on that person’s behalf during times of incapacitation.
MHADs offer several key benefits. Correctly implemented and executed, they can:
- Promote individual autonomy and empowerment in the recovery from mental illness;
- Enhance communication between individuals and their families, friends, healthcare providers, and other professionals;
- Protect individuals from being subjected to ineffective, unwanted, or possibly harmful treatments or actions; and
- Help in preventing crises and the resulting use of involuntary treatment or safety interventions such as restrain or seclusion.
MHAPA, the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association created a guide to MHADs that provides information about the forms and assistance in completing them. The guide is available in English or Spanish and is designed to assist people with mental illnesses in preparing a MHAD.
The booklet includes instructions and the MHAD forms and answers frequently asked questions. Additional materials available in English only are Providers FAQs and information for Mental Health Agents.
If you have additional questions or need assistance with completing a form, contact any one of the following organizations:
Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association