Mental health awareness and Advance Statements
You may know of a document called a “Medical Power of Attorney”, which is a legal document used when a person appoints another person(s) and gives that person(s) the power to make decisions about medical treatment on their behalf.
You may also know of a document called an “Enduring Power of Attorney”, which is a legal document used when a person appoints another person(s) and gives that person(s) the power to make decisions about financial and/or personal matters on their behalf.
But do you know what an Advance Statement is?
If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and would like to have a say in the treatment you prefer to receive should you become unwell and need compulsory mental health treatment, you may make an Advance Statement, provided that you understand what an Advance Statement is and the consequences of making an Advance Statement.
An Advance Statement contains information of the person, their details such as their date of birth and address, details of their Psychiatrist, GP, details of your mental health worker/support worker and details of family members, carers, support people who are involved in your care. It also contains your treatment preferences and contact details of the person whom you nominate to be your contact should you require compulsory mental health treatment. In your Advance Statement, you could also indicate what treatment you would prefer not to receive, such as Electro Convulsive Therapy, and why.
If you have made an Advance Statement, your treating doctors and other health professionals must consider the treatment you would like as indicated within your Advance Statement.
The aim of the Mental Health Act 2014 and the Advance Statements are to make sure that people receiving mental health services are involved in all decisions about their assessment, treatment and recovery and are supported to make, or participate in, those decisions and have their views and preferences respected (Advance Statements under the Mental Health Act in Victoria brochure published by the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria).
One in five Australians will suffer from a mental illness in any given year (source). If you know a friend or family member who may benefit from this information, share this article with them!
This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.