The Benefits of Psychiatric Advance Directives

NYAPRS Note: Several of the proposed mental health reform bills in Congress would weaken HIPAA laws that ensure patient privacy. The justification for this privacy breach is to prevent families from being shut out of the decision-making process for loved ones with acute mental health needs. NYAPRS contends, however, that encouraging the use of psychiatric advance directives alleviates the need to weaken HIPAA.

According to the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, “Advance directives can specify the treatment a person wishes to receive if they are found incapacitated, such as which medications they prefer, treatments they do not wish to have or ways in which treatment may be administered (such as refusing shots and choosing pills). It also allows them to make other specifications, such as who they would like to be allowed to visit them in hospital, what arrangements they want for their children or for pets, and any financial arrangements that are need (such as how their bills should be paid). What is included in an advance directive is entirely up to the person who creates it.”

For more information on psychiatric advance directives, including a template folks can use to create their own, visit:

http://www.bazelon.org/Where-We-Stand/Self-Determination/Advance-Directives.aspx