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 http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/record/03rs/hb99.htm. 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.