Mental health living wills could provide more options for those in crisis

Georgians with a mental health diagnosis may soon have more control over their care if their decision-making is compromised.

The Georgia Psychiatric Advance Directive Act would allow individuals with a diagnosed mental health disorder to create a plan and select a representative who has access to their medical background and can make treatment decisions on their behalf if that is not possible so.

Experts say it could help people suffering from episodic disorders that temporarily affect their ability to take care of themselves.

The bill comes amid a flurry of mental health legislative activity after Georgia House Speaker David Ralston announced it was a priority for this legislature. It passed house 165-0 and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Peter Ash, a psychiatrist who testified before lawmakers, said a patient who could benefit from the bill could be someone with bipolar or manic-depressive disorder.

“The typical course of this particular illness is that you go on as normal for a while, then you have a period of depression, and then you get back to normal, then you get a period of mania, and then you’re back to normal. ‘ Ash said. “So when you’re in the normal phase, you know that if you get manic, you can look at your history and make rational decisions about what you want and what you think you should do.”

Rep. Sharon Cooper, a Republican from Marietta and chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is sponsoring the bill.

“It’s time to give people suffering from any type of mental illness the opportunity to have a say in how they want to be treated when they have an episode of their mental illness,” she said.

According to the bill, a doctor or psychologist who has evaluated the patient can invoke the policy if they determine that the patient is “unable to make mental health decisions” because of “thinking disorders” or “other cognitive disabilities.” hold true”.

Daniel Munster, an attorney for senior attorneys at the State Bar of Georgia, said the law would allow people to outline their mental health diagnosis and common symptoms in preparation for an event.

“You can also identify historical treatments that have been successful, historical treatments that haven’t worked well,” Munster said.

As previously written, the law of Georgia on living wills does not cover mental health treatment.

“There is a loophole in our current law,” Munster said. “The goal is to close this gap.”

This article appears on Now Habersham in association with Fresh Take Georgia

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