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What is a Mental Health Advance Directive? A Brief Overview.

Clipboard with a pencil.

By Ziggie

I believe that advanced planning is essential for personal wellness. The ability to foresee or
prepare for future events can keep our minds at ease and on track. Sometimes we plan for
vacations or other trips, other times, it may be a will or a Mental Health Advance Directive. In
April, I had the opportunity to attend a month-long course, in which I learned about advanced
planning and how I could create my plan, and how to help others with the creation of their
directive. This month, I’ll be talking about what a Mental Health Advance Directive is and how it
may be a document you may want to create or look into on your own.

A Mental Health Advanced Directive is simply planning for when mental burdens become so
debilitating you may consider an inpatient stay at mental health facility or respite. Getting
treatment for mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, however, it’s important to consider the
types of interventions which may work best for you before or if you ever are at a mental health
facility. Things like hospitals you’d like to go to (or not) types of interventions or medication
options we’d prefer can be out of a person’s hands in a crisis so planning for this type of
circumstance is vital.

For example, my own Mental Health Advanced Directive contains very detailed information about
my mental health condition, ASD, preferred hospitals, and things that will help or makes things
worse in a crisis. While a Mental Health Advanced Directive may not always be followed by
certain mental healthcare facilities, it does lay the groundwork for providing context on what can
help a person be well. If you are going to create a Mental Health Advanced Directive, give copies
of it to those you trust; family, close friends, and doctors (and be sure to have those supporters
shred an older document when and if you update your own). When you have an entire team, a
unit all on the same page for when you are in a crisis, the help can feel more streamlined and it’s
fewer things for you to worry about.

You are the one who leads the way in creating your own Mental Health Advanced Directive. A
mental health service provider may have a template that you can utilize or create (or you can find
one online). It does not have to be complex, start simple and take your time, collaborating with
those that you trust to create a document that you feel will help you the most in a crisis. When
creating a document like this, it’s important to decide if you want an Agent to carry out the wishes
of a Mental Health Advance Directive, whether it be an Informative document or a combination of
the two. It’s a freeform way of creating a care plan to help you when you need it the most.

As a Peer Specialist, it’s important to prioritize my own wellness and acquire resources that may
assist others. A Mental Health Advanced Directive was a document I was familiar with but this
month-long course that I took was current, up to date, and covered nuances that I hadn’t
considered in the past. Planning I believe is a pragmatic option to consider. If you create your
own Mental Health Advanced Directive maybe you’ll never be in a position where it’s utilized, but
just in case, if you have created your own it may help you most when you need it.
I hope that this blog was informative, and gets you thinking. As I attend more educational
opportunities like this one, I hope to share what I learned with the readers as well. Thank you so
much.