Advance Directives

A Mental Health Advance Directive (MHAD) is a document that is created by a person to state their wishes and preferences in case he or she is experiencing a mental health crisis and is unable to make decisions. The MHAD becomes a legal document to guide care when the person’s attending physician and a second doctor, not directly involved in the person’s care, certify in writing that the person is incapable of making informed decisions about his/her mental health treatment. A Mental Health Advance Directive may be written in any form and as long as it is signed by the individual, it is valid until the person changes or revokes it. The MHAD form that we provide here represents the combined work of many mental health professionals, consumers and family members to develop a friendly and comprehensive document. Anyone is welcome to use this MHAD or to revise it so that it best supports the person who wishes to have a MHAD.

Beyond its use as a legal tool in an emergency, a MHAD has many other benefits to empower a person with mental illness and to enhance communication between people and their support or treatment networks. MHAD’s support person-centered care, enhance steps to recovery and assist in times of crises.

Some of the elements a person can choose to include in a MHAD are:

  • Specific instructions regarding treatment
  • Preferred hospitals and service providers
  • Person to make health decisions and people with whom information may be shared
  • Alerts to allergies, adverse reactions and other health and medication issues
  • Desired visitors
  • And more….

A Maryland Advance Directive for Mental Health document was recently developed by a consortium representing the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, providers, and consumer and advocacy groups. Additionally, a two-hour training program is now available for presentations to patients, clients, family members and mental health professionals.

 The following are downloadable documents for a MHAD:

If you are interested in a Mental Health Advance Directive Training (minimum 10 people) or you have questions about the MHAD, please contact Kim Burton, at the Mental Health Association of Maryland, 443-901-1550, ext. 210, or e-mail