PSA: Psychiatric Advance Directives

I’ve been seeing posts about psych/mental health issues getting exacerbated by the COVID-19 situation. And I’ve also seen many folks over the last few months suggesting making wills and advance directives etc. I wanted to draw attention to a lesser known type of health directive ppl with psychiatric health issues should consider making. It’s a Psychiatric Advance Directive.

It’s not terribly well known. Even some hospitals don’t know they exist. I asked to do one before I knew it was an actual thing when I was admitted to inpatient last year & the hospital didn’t know about it. Weirdly enough, when I was discharged to a partial hospital program at the same hospital, their standard intake involved providing me info on filling one out.

Anyways, a psychiatric advance directive is not just about life threatening issues in the traditional sense but also about losing the capacity for decision making for yourself in the context of psychiatric/mental illness.

So the idea is for you to have some control over what treatments etc may be administered to you if you’re deemed incapable of decision making due to a psychiatric emergency.

Here’s a website offering resources by state:


Note that it may be triggering for ppl to read through the forms and make choices about what they’d like to put in their directive as it asks about everything from restraints to ECT etc.

Recommend talking to your psych health team and healthcare proxy in developing this document.

And you’ll need to have it signed w witnesses etc as well to make it legal.

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