Psychiatric Advance Directives

A psychiatric advance directive (PAD) is a legal plan that allows a person to specify important information for caregivers in the event of a mental health crisis. The PAD can provide valuable information for providers to reference and follow during that difficult time.

Psychiatric advance directives are gaining more and more recognition as a valuable tool. For example, a few comments we have heard from consumers and peers include:
— “A psychiatric advance directive is just as important as a medical advance directive.”
— “I was there as a peer when a PAD was followed in the emergency room. It really helped the person who was having the crisis.”
— “The PAD gave me the chance to talk to my doctor about my wishes.”
— “It helped to open a line of communication with my son, who is now my representative.”
Key Points about a PAD— A PAD lets others know which treatment and medications are preferred and which to avoid.
— A PAD helps make decision-making easier in a time of great crisis or stress.
— A PAD helps keep the focus on the individual during the crisis period.
— A PAD improves communication between the individual, the natural supports such as family members and the treatment team.
— A PAD provides the option to appoint a representative to make decisions on behalf of the individual during a time of crisis.
— A PAD enables documentation of personal preferences and is completed when the individual is feeling well.
— Preparing a PAD presents the opportunity to seek input from other trusted individuals.

An individual may choose to register a psychiatric advance directive with the state. This is optional. If it is registered, the plan will be kept at a confidential central registry and is available to be accessed at any time (24/7) by an authorized health professional. The benefit of registering a psychiatric advance directive is that the treating medical professional or screening center can get a copy of the plan in a timely manner.
The MHANJ has been conducting advocacy and training initiatives over the last few years to increase the understanding and acceptance of psychiatric advance directives with consumers of mental health services, physicians and health care providers.
If you would like to arrange for a presentation about Psychiatric Advance Directives, please contact Cynthia Spadola at or 973-571-4100, ext. 133.
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Mental Health Association in New Jersey, Inc.

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