What is a Psychiatric Advance Directive?

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A psychiatric advance directive contains your preferences and instructions for your mental health treatment when you’re in a mental health crisis. Learn more.

What is a Psychiatric Advance Directive?

Have you heard of a psychiatric advance directive?

Sometimes, people living with mental illness worry about what will happen if they enter crisis. A common concern relates to needing a psychiatric hospital and having no control over decisions made about them. Did you know that you can take legal action ahead of time, while you have the mental capacity, by creating a psychiatric advance directive?

A psychiatric advance directive contains your preferences and instructions for your mental health treatment. It can also name an agent or proxy to make treatment decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so for mental health reasons.

Psychiatric advance directives can include preferences like these:

  • Medication you’ve tried and do not want again
  • Medication you’d like to keep taking
  • People you do or do not want involved in your mental health care

A psychiatric advance directive can’t:

  • Guarantee certain doctors will work with you
  • Give you unrestricted control over your treatment, including medication

Having your preferences known and legally recognized can help reduce some of the stress of psychiatric hospitalization. When you speak up for yourself when you are able to think clearly, you will retain your voice when you’re not functioning at complete mental capacity.

(Note: You can include components of psychiatric directives into a medical advance directive or living will if your state doesn’t recognize psychiatric advance directives.)

Related Articles Dealing with Psychiatric Hospitalization

Your Thoughts

Today's Question: What items do you think would be helpful to include in a psychiatric advance directive? We invite you to participate by sharing your experiences, thoughts, and knowledge on the HealthyPlace Facebook page.

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, October 1). What is a Psychiatric Advance Directive?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Last Updated: October 2, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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