Spotlight on Mental Health: Understanding Psychiatric Advance Directives

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Thirty years after the ADA and over twenty years following Olmstead, people with serious mental illness are not living integrated into our communities. Instead, they cycle through criminal justice, hospitalization, and homelessness recidivism. Psychiatric advance directives are legal documents that allow individuals with serious mental illness to state their preferences for treatment in the event of commitment to a hospital. Psychiatric advance directives (PADs) enable a person to prepare in advance of a crisis and provide a voice during that time if one occurs. Expanded psychiatric advance directives provide an opportunity for people with serious mental illness to state their treatment preferences more broadly and to identify the supports and services they need to live integrated into the community. Under federal law, any facility receiving Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements is required to use advance directives. Individuals with behavioral health illness are covered under this mandate.

Attorney Laurie Hallmark will discuss how psychiatric advance directives can be used to create the systemic change to address the cycle of criminal justice, hospitalization, and homelessness recidivism. Topic areas will include a brief background and main components of directives, and a look at some differences in state laws as they pertain to these directives.

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Laurie Hallmark Special Project Director for Mental Health Programs , Texas RioGrande Legal Aid