All throughout #MentalHealthMonth, NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania is sharing helpful Q&A’s on various subjects. This week’s topic is Mental Health Advance Directives. We asked our Adult Advocate, Mike McCarthy, a few questions to give you the basics on what an MHAD is and how it can help.
Q: What is a Mental Health Advance Directive (MHAD)?
A: A Mental Health Advance Directive is a document that allows you to make your choices known regarding mental health treatment in the event that your mental illness makes you unable to make decisions. In effect, you are making decisions about treatment before the time that you will need it. This allows you to make more informed decisions and to make your wishes clearly known.
Q: Why are they important?
A: An MHAD is important because it lets you have a voice and choice in your treatment and gives you more control over how you will be treated in a hospital. It also should be able to get you treatment faster and out of the hospital in a faster period of time.
Q: Who should have an MHAD?
A: Anyone over the age of 18 that has mental health capacity and doesn’t have a guardian.
Whom should individuals contact to fill out an MHAD?
A: You can contact me, Mike McCarthy, by phone at 412-366-3788 or 1-888-264-7972. You can also email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What other measures can people take to ensure their voices are heard if they become unable to represent themselves?
A: If you have an MHAD and it’s not being followed, it’s important to let the hospital internal advocate know that or file a complaint with the administration. Most hospitals have that in some form. Also, contact the county’s Mental Health Ombudsman, advocate (myself in Allegheny Co.), or Disability Rights Pa who have legal resources on staff. This is a legally-binding document that Mental Health providers often don’t understand. Also, if you are having a crisis and don’t feel you would make the best choices at that time you can always nominate an agent to make decisions for you.
You can also find more information on our website, www.namikeystonepa.org/advocacy.