Planning My Way // For Mental Health Care

Living with a mental health care condition is not easy. But making sure your values, goals and wishes are reflected in your care can ease some of the burden. There is only one person truly qualified to tell your health care providers how you feel about different issues—and that’s YOU.

Some people believe that doctors know best and therefore should make all the decisions. However, patients’ values and goals are very important and should be the guiding force behind your care. Your health care providers have technical knowledge and years of experience, but without your help, they can’t know what’s best for you given your specific medical situation. Two patients with the same condition can have very different ideas about what kind of treatment they want. Have you thought about what kinds of medical care you would choose if you couldn’t tell your providers what you wanted? Through advance care planning, you can help ensure that your wishes will guide future care.

Be sure to discuss your choices with your spokesperson, loved ones, and health care providers.

You may attach a copy of this optional worksheet to your Advance Directive if you choose to complete one. Please review this worksheet with your spokesperson, loved ones, and health care providers before you attach it to your advance directive.

Be sure to initial each page. If you do this, your health organization will treat the worksheet as part of your directive. If you give the worksheet to your health care provider, it will become part of your medical record, and will be protected like your other medical information.

Advance care planning steps:

about what you would want if you had to make difficult choices.

about your views with your spokesperson, loved ones, and health care providers.

a spokesperson. Your spokesperson can speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself; some people might call this person your surrogate.

an advance directive to document your preferences.

a personal letter or audio or video recording to share your wishes.

Why Plan Ahead

Different people want different things. Consider Mrs. Kingsley's story

She has advanced Alzheimer’s disease. She can't recognize her family anymore. She also can't do many of the things she used to do to take care of herself, like eating on her own. The aides in the nursing home lovingly care for her, and mostly she seems content.

Mrs. Kingsley has developed pneumonia and needs to go to the hospital for treatment with intravenous (IV) antibiotics. Her doctors say that this treatment will probably restore her to the life she had before. However, many people who are transferred from nursing homes to hospitals become confused and upset. Also, because Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, Mrs. Kingsley's condition will keep getting worse. She may have more serious cases of pneumonia in the future, as well as other serious medical complications.

This worksheet has four parts:
  • Mental Health Symptoms
  • Medication and Treatment Preferences for Mental Health
  • Entering a Mental Health Facility
  • Other Information and Preferences
You can use this worksheet to:
  • Record your mental health care choices.
  • Ensure that your spokesperson, loved ones, and health care providers clearly understand your wishes.

Be sure to discuss your choices with your spokesperson, loved ones, and health care providers.

You may attach a copy of this optional worksheet to your Advance Directive if you choose to complete one. Be sure to initial each page. If you do this, your health organization will treat the worksheet as part of your directive. If you give the worksheet to your health care provider, it will become part of your medical record, and will be protected like your other medical information.

Please review this worksheet with your spokesperson, loved ones, and health care providers before you attach it to your advance directive.

If you have a serious mental health condition, you should let your doctors and loved ones know your wishes for mental health care. This is just as important as letting them know your wishes for other types of medical care. Think about your experiences with your mental health condition. If you recognize signs that your mental health is getting worse, you may want your providers and loved ones to know those signs, too. Have certain treatments or drugs helped you while others haven’t? Have you been hospitalized before? If so, was it helpful? You may have had either good or bad experiences with other approaches your providers have tried, too.

Start Worksheet

Completing your Advance Directive

  • What is an advance directive? + -
  • Proxy vs Instructional Directives + -
  • Which advance directive is right for me? + -
  • Which parts of the advance directive form should I complete? + -
  • How often should I review my advance directive? + -

To appoint a spokesperson and complete an advance directive, choose a legal document in your state from the list below. (Please enable popups for this link to work.)

Important Worksheets

After completing the worksheet Mental Health Care Preferences, you should take the following steps:

This worksheet will help you choose the best spokesperson for you. Your spokesperson should be a competent adult.

Start Worksheet