An Important Tool for Empowerment & Communication

A Mental Health Advance Directive (MHAD) is a legal document that allows a person with a mental illness to state their wishes and preferences in advance of a mental health crisis. MHAD guides care when a person’s attending physician and a second doctor who is not directly involved in the the patient’s care, certify that someone is incapable of making informed decisions about their mental health treatment. A Mental Health Advance Directive may be written in any form. As long as it is signed by the individual, it will remain valid until the individual changes or revokes it. The MHAD form that the Mental Health Association of Maryland provides 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 that empower a person with mental illness and enhance communication between individuals and their support or treatment networks. MHAD’s support person-centered care, enhance steps to recovery, and assist in times of crises.

Elements of a Mental Health Advance Directive

There are several elements that a person can choose to include when creating their MHAD. These include:

  • 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…

Mental Health Advance Directive Resources

A Maryland Mental Health Advance Directive was developed by a consortium representing the Maryland Department of Health, providers, and consumer and advocacy groups. MHAD education is available through the Mental Health Association of Maryland and a slide-show tutorial is available through the local Maryland Network of Care websites.  The following are downloadable resources for creating a MHAD:

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