Mental Health Advance Directives

A mental health directive is a document that allows you to state the mental health care you want if you become physically or mentally unable to decide for yourself. There are two types of mental health advance directives: Mental Health Declarations and Mental Health Powers of Attorney. If you have either a Mental Health Declaration or a Mental Health Power of Attorney, you should give it to your mental health care providers, and a trusted family member or friend so that they know your wishes.

Both the Mental Health Declaration and the Mental Health Power of Attorney must be in writing. Just saying what you want is not enough.

If the laws regarding Mental Health Declarations and Mental Health Powers of Attorney are changed, CBH will tell you in writing what the change is within 90 days of the change. For information on CBH’s policies on Mental Health Declarations and Mental Health Powers of Attorney, contact CBH Member Services.

Mental Health Declaration

A Mental Health Declaration is a document that you create. It can include:

  • What kind of treatment or care you prefer.
  • Where you would like to have your care take place.
  • Any specific instructions you may have about your mental health treatment.

Your provider must have a copy of your Mental Health Declaration in order to follow it. Your Mental Health Declaration will be used if you are physically or mentally unable to make decisions for yourself. You may revoke or change a Mental Health Declaration as long as you are able to revoke or change it.

Mental Health Power of Attorney

A Mental Health Power of Attorney is a document in which you give someone else the power to make mental health treatment decisions for you if you are physically or mentally unable to make decisions for yourself. It also states what must happen for the Power of Attorney to take effect. To create a Mental Health Power of Attorney, you may but do not have to get legal help. You may revoke or change a Mental Health Power of Attorney as long as you are able to revoke or change it.

Help Creating Mental Health Declarations and Mental Health Powers of AttorneyHelp Creating Mental Health Declarations and Mental Health Powers of Attorney 

If you would like to have a Mental Health Declaration or a Mental Health Power of Attorney, or both, and need help creating one, you can contact an advocacy organization such as the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania (1-866-578-3659 or info@mhapa.org) or Mental Health Partnerships (215-751-1800). They will provide you with forms and answer any questions.

What to Do If a Provider Does Not Follow Your Mental Health Declaration or Your Mental Health Power of Attorney

Providers do not have to follow your Mental Health Declaration or Mental Health Power of Attorney if, as a matter of conscience, your decisions are against clinical practice and medical standards, because the treatment you want is unavailable, or because what you want the provider to do is against the provider’s policies. If your provider cannot follow your Mental Health Declaration or Mental Health Power of Attorney, contact CBH Member Services to help you find a provider that will carry out your wishes.

If a provider does not follow your Mental Health Declaration or Mental Health Power of Attorney, you may file a Complaint.