Many people use advance directives to express their wishes for end-of-life care. But that’s not their only use. In Oregon, a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment can be used to indicate preferences for psychiatric treatment, helping to ensure that, should you be hospitalized and unable to give or withhold consent, your wishes will be honored.
Why prepare a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment? It can be difficult for anybody to assert themselves in a hospital situation. For someone in crisis, it might be almost impossible.
A person with severe depression, for instance, might be handed a consent form and be told, “This is the best treatment for you” – and scribble a signature, without fully apprehending that he or she just consented to ECT.
A Declaration for Mental Health Treatment can help prevent this from occurring. You may expressly tell physicians, beforehand, that you absolutely do not want certain interventions, such as electroshock treatment, medications you can’t tolerate, or the use of seclusion and restraints.
You can also use the form to give providers information they wouldn’t otherwise have. For instance, you could tell them it helps to give you privacy – or that you do not want to be left alone for long periods.
While there are certain situations where your wishes can be overridden, these are extremely limited.
Some people might hesitate before preparing a Declaration for Mental Health Treatment; does it mean you are resigned to the eventuality of a future hospitalization? Actually, an Advance Directive is more like an insurance policy. Maybe you won’t have to use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
Forms and Information