In 2022, a new legal form came into being: Psychiatric Advance Directive.  A link to this form in PDF fillable version can be found on the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network’s website.  The acronym for this form is PAD.

What does this form do that your Advance Directive does NOT do?

First, we want to say that the Psychiatric Advance Directive is NOT A REPLACEMENT to the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care.  Rather, the Psychiatric Advance Directive compliments the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care if you want to ensure your mental health choices are heard.  Both documents are needed in a complete estate plan.  In addition, a complete memorandum of current medications for all diagnosis and care plans in place is critical to helping ensure your health care Agent, whether for mental health or otherwise, knows what to do and who to reach out to if they need to step into your healthcare.

Second, we want to share a few statistics about mental illness in the United States.  According to studies by the National Institute of Mental Health, 23% of adults in the United States have a mental illness.  In young adults, it is 33% of adults in the United States.  There are two major categories of mental illness, one which is referred to as AMI (any mental illness) which is broad category encompassing any diagnosis, whether there is known impairment or not, and the other category is SMI (serious mental illness) which is a category where impairment exists and has a significant impact on living.

Third, of the statistics laid out by the National Institute of Mental Health, it is clear that women have a higher prevalence of both diagnosis and seeking treatment.  It is extremely important, therefore, for women to understand this document and make clear their choices.

Prior to 2022, Georgia didn’t have a defined Psychiatric Advance Directive.  Through the hard work of fellow estate planners, mental health professionals, mental health advocacy groups and legislatures, a bill was enacted addressing issues Georgia’s law as it relates to treatment of mental health (the care).  This bill also laid the framework of the PAD currently in place and available through the link above.

A wonderful explanation of how PADs work, their history and what you should know if you have a mental health diagnosis or help individuals put documents in place for care or are a caregiver for someone with a mental health diagnosis is found in this publication by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  This publication, entitled A Practical Guide to Psychiatric Advance Directives (which can be found at the link) is lengthy!  But very helpful in understand how these powerful documents can help save lives.

At Atlanta Wills and Trusts Law Group, we have decided to offer helping our clients put these important documents in place moving forward with all new estate plans.  Be mindful, however, it is important to consult your treating mental health professionals when completing these forms!  It is about education AND choices.

If you are a former client of Atlanta Wills and Trusts Law Group and want to learn more about putting this important document in place, reach out to us at (770) 508-6525 and schedule a 20 minute call with our attorney, Amy Refeca.