HIRING THE RIGHT ATTORNEY IS A tough choice. Why not select one certified by the Louisiana State Bar Association?

Attorney Carl S. Goode

HIRING THE RIGHT ATTORNEY IS A tough choice. Why not select one certified by the Louisiana State Bar Association?

What is an Advance Directive for Mental Health Treatment?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Most people have heard of advance directives for health care or, as they’re often called, living wills. These let people designate what kind of life-prolonging measures they want medical providers to continue or stop if they’re in a condition where there’s no chance of regaining consciousness or living any kind of meaningful life if they’ve suffered catastrophic injuries or a serious medical event.

There’s another kind of advance directive that people should consider if they’re living with a mental illness. In Louisiana, it’s called an Advance Directive for Mental Health Treatment. It allows people to specify what kind of treatments they do and don’t want if they’re having a psychiatric crisis. Under state law, providers are required to follow that directive unless the treatments listed aren’t working.

Of course, a person has to be capable of creating this document in order for it to be legally valid. Many people living with mental illness are fully capable of living “normal” lives and making these decisions for themselves as long as they’re on the appropriate medications to manage their condition.

What can you designate in your directive?

This directive, which is to be used only if two physicians determine a person to be “incapable,” includes things like:

  • What psychoactive medications can be administered
  • What medications a person doesn’t want administered
  • Authorization for admission to a treatment facility 
  • Under what conditions electroshock therapy can be used

This document lets people designate the facility(ies) in which they prefer to be treated and to provide information about the doctor who’s currently treating them. It’s also important to designate a mental health care treatment representative who has the authority to talk with the treating team.

It’s critical to ensure that the appropriate people have a copy of the directive. People should give one to their designated representative and their mental health care provider. They should also keep a copy on them or their phone in case they’re detained by law enforcement during a psychiatric crisis.

This is just a brief overview of this document and why you or a loved one may need to have one in place. It’s wise to have legal guidance to help ensure that it’s legally valid and will serve its intended purpose if it’s ever needed.