Advance Directives for Mental Health Treatment

What is an advance directive for mental health treatment?

Many peo­ple who have men­tal ill­ness­es are con­cerned that, at some point in their lives, they might be sub­ject­ed to psy­chi­atric treat­ment that they don’t want. Now Ken­tuck­ians can pre­pare a legal doc­u­ment in advance to express their choic­es about treat­ment. House Bill 99, which the Ken­tucky Gen­er­al Assem­bly passed in the 2003 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, cre­at­ed the advance direc­tive for men­tal health treat­ment.

What instructions can I give?

The advance direc­tive is a writ­ten, legal­ly bind­ing doc­u­ment that express­es a person’s wish­es about accept­ing or refus­ing men­tal health treat­ment. For exam­ple, peo­ple with advance direc­tives for men­tal health treat­ment can tell their doc­tors in advance that they will not take spe­cif­ic psy­chotrop­ic med­ica­tions. An advance direc­tive might say before­hand that a per­son does not want elec­tric shock ther­a­py. It can cov­er a person’s pref­er­ences for psy­chotrop­ic med­ica­tions or pref­er­ences for emer­gency inter­ven­tions before a cri­sis occurs.

Peo­ple who have advance direc­tives can give health care providers infor­ma­tion about any­thing that they think is impor­tant. They can also choose to des­ig­nate some­one else (a sur­ro­gate) to act on their behalf accord­ing to what they wrote in the advance direc­tive. Health care providers must fol­low a person’s advance direc­tive unless a court orders them to do some­thing dif­fer­ent or unless there is an emer­gency that would endan­ger a person’s life or phys­i­cal health.

How do I write advance directives?

House Bill 99 pro­vides a form for peo­ple to use if they want to write advance direc­tives for men­tal health treat­ment. While it isn’t nec­es­sary to use the form, it is a good idea because a valid advance direc­tive must sub­stan­tial­ly com­ply with the form pro­vid­ed in the statute.

Either two adult wit­ness­es must sign the advance direc­tive or it must be nota­rized for it to be fin­ished. Nei­ther the wit­ness­es nor the notary pub­lic can be the person’s cur­rent health care provider or a rel­a­tive of the health care provider.

If you would like to get a copy of the entire law com­plete with the advance direc­tive form, you can find it at You an also call P&A.

This is only a sum­ma­ry of the House Bill 99 and not legal advice. For legal advice, you may want to con­tact a pri­vate attor­ney or call P&A.

Call the Ken­tucky Pro­tec­tion and Advo­ca­cy office at 1–800-372‑2988 for more help.

KY Advanced Men­tal Health Direc­tive Form


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