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New Law Helps Preserve Autonomy during Mental Health Crisis

If you have a history of mental health challenges, how can you make sure your preferences are honored during a crisis? Georgia House Bill 752, also known as the Georgia Psychiatric Advance Directive, gives you a new way to answer that question.

Signed into law last May, this legislation represents an important development for people who have experienced a mental health crisis, already have a mental health diagnosis, or have a family member with a mental health diagnosis. HB 752 opens up the possibility of making decisions about mental health treatment in advance.

Attorney Hailey Brock sees this legislation as a positive development for Georgia residents. “Executing a Psychiatric Advance Directive is helpful because it allows that person to create a roadmap that healthcare providers can use when trying to assist during a future mental health crisis,” she explained. “The individual can nominate a ‘mental health care agent’ to make decisions for them in the event of a mental health crisis, and can impose limits on that person’s authority. The individual can also specify on the document what de-escalation techniques are helpful to them personally and which are not, and they can also list the names of their therapists, doctors, and pharmacists, any medications they may be prescribed and those they cannot tolerate, as well as their preferred treatment facilities. All this proactive decision-making allows the individual to have more autonomy and control over their treatment in the event of a future mental health crisis.”

Hailey sees parallels between this new legislation and the legislation that created the Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare. “Executing this document while healthy gives an individual the power to proactively plan ahead and make sound decisions about their future care and treatment,” she said.

Does everyone need a Psychiatric Advance Directive? “A person who has no history of mental health problems may not see a need to execute this document as part of their estate plan,” Hailey noted, "but it may be helpful for someone who is looking ahead to the possibility of an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis. Both can involve mental health challenges.”

Questions about the Georgia Psychiatric Advance Directive? Kimbrough Law can help. Just give us a call at 706.850.6910.


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