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May 20, 2019

Psychiatric Advance Directives

Written By: Andrew Heil, MSW, LCSW, LCAS


As we approach the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope everyone has had a chance to review our past social media posts sharing information from the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI. If it slipped past your feed, please check it out!:

Knowledge is a key component in helping to end stigma, build resiliency, and better support those around you, but it is not the be all end all.

Today, I want to talk more about empowerment as part of mental health recovery.

People with mental health concerns, their loved ones, and mental health professionals alike are often aware of how dis-empowered one can feel during a time of crisis, especially during an time of involuntary treatment.

Thankfully, there is an accessible tool that helps people with mental illness and their loved ones maintain self-determination, autonomy, and dignity even in times of crisis: a Psychiatric Advance Directive or PAD.

Much like a medical advance directive, a PAD is a legal document that can help others know the treatment an individual wants and does not want during a crisis when that individual cannot make decisions and/or speak for themselves. Preferences regarding medication, hospitalization, and other treatment considerations are documented for a physician or other mental health practitioner to consider and a trusted person can also be appointed to speak on an individual’s behalf.

The North Carolina Evidence Based Practices Center has a wealth of information regarding PADs, how to complete one, and current implementation efforts.


See what impact PADs have had in people’s lives in North Carolina as well!


I wish everyone a wonderful end to this month of increased awareness, knowledge, and empowerment, and hope it extends to all parts of the calendar year as well!




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