My Advance Declaration for Mental Health Treatment

What is a Declaration of Mental Health Treatment?

A Declaration for Mental Health Treatment, also known as a Psychiatric Advance Directive, is a legal document completed by an individual that details their instructions and wishes for their mental health treatment in times when they are too ill to make their wishes known.

Why Would I Want to Fill One Out If I’m Not Sick?

An advance directive can help to improve communication between you and your doctor, you and other staff, and you and your family members involved in your recovery.

Having a psychiatric advance directive may help to shorten a hospital stay or help you avoid one altogether.

What Do I Do After I Fill It Out?

You should have several copies of your Declaration for Mental Health Treatment made. One should be placed in your mental health chart. You and your agent should have a copy to present on your behalf if you have to go to the hospital.

What is an Agent?

An agent is a friend, family member, or someone else you trust and designate to make sure the hospital has a copy of your Declaration for Mental Health Treatment if you did not take one with you. The agent can also help to make decisions about your treatment if it is not covered in the Declaration for Mental Health Treatment or if some part of the Declaration for Mental Health Treatment cannot be followed for good reasons.

Important Points

S.C. does not recognize Statements of Desires without appointment of an agent/surrogate under a Health Care Power of Attorney. Forms for a Health Care Power of Attorney can be found with the Advance Directive Form on the South Carolina Department of Mental Health website or in the South Carolina Code of Laws – Unannotated, Title 62 – South Carolina Probate Code, Article 5, SECTION 62-5-504.

Your case manager or other mental health worker cannot be your agent.

It is important that you understand that in an emergency situation, a doctor can do something different from what you have stated in your Declaration for Mental Health Treatment, but the doctor must go through certain steps to do this.

It is up to you or your agent to make sure the hospital has a copy of your Declaration for Mental Health Treatment. You may want to have a copy placed in your outpatient record so that outpatient staff are aware of what hospital or crisis stabilization approaches you would prefer, if you are not able to express your own choices at the time.