The Importance of Psychiatric Advance Directives
On Sept. 29, 2011, Mental Health America launched My Plan, My Life: My Psychiatric Advance Directive, www.MyPlanMyLife.com, a new online resource to inform consumers with mental illness, their families and health care professionals about the importance of psychiatric advance directives as a tool that provides instructions regarding treatment or services one wishes to have or not have during a mental health crisis.
“We know that given the proper guidance, information and support, most individuals have a real interest in putting a psychiatric advance directive in place for themselves,” said David Shern, PhD, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “That’s why My Plan, My Life was developed.”
A psychiatric advance directive allows you to specify considerations about your mental health care treatment and appoint an agent who may make decisions about your treatment in the event of a mental health crisis. In some cases, you may also give further background information about how you have reacted to past treatment.
Despite these benefits, a survey of more than 1,000 psychiatric outpatients in 5 U.S. cities concluded the underuse of psychiatric advance directives in the United States. It found that while about 70 percent of consumers in public-sector treatment would like to complete a psychiatric advance directive (and say they would do so if provided assistance), fewer than 1 in 10 have actually completed one.
A comprehensive and easy-to-understand online resource and information center, My Plan, My Life answers some of the most frequent questions people have about psychiatric advance directives and provides a step-by-step guide on how to create one. The site (www.MyPlanMyLife.com) also features the video stories of several individuals who have integrated psychiatric advance directives into their own psychiatric care.