Mental Health Advance Directives

A Mental Health Advance Directive offers a clear written statement of an individual's medical treatment preferences or other expressed wishes or instructions. 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.

The passage of Act 194 allows Pennsylvania the opportunity to create a Mental Health Advance Directive. This new law promotes planning ahead for mental health services and supports. Advance Directives 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.

A booklet which is available in English or Spanish was developed to assist people with mental illnesses in preparing and Advance Directive (Power of Attorney or Declaration or both). The booklet includes forms, instructions and answers frequently asked questions.

Additional materials available in English only are Providers FAQs and information for Mental Health Agents.


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