Mental Health Advance Directive

Learn how an advance directive for mental health treatment works and get the form. #9610EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You'll learn how a Mental Health Advance Directive can help if you have a mental illness that sometimes affects your ability to make health care choices. You'll also learn how to fill out a Washington State Mental Health Advance Directive.

It's a form you use to say what you want to happen if your mental illness become so severe that you need help from others. It provides guidance for your health care agent, friends, relatives, and health care providers about what mental health care works best for you. It also allows you to approve specific medications and treatments that other health care directives and power of attorney forms cannot authorize.

You can include anything that might help others know how to give you the care you need when you experience severe symptoms from your mental illness, including the following examples:

  • You can approve, refuse, or put limits on psychiatric medications.
  • You can approve, refuse, or put limits on psychiatric treatments.
  • You can approve hospitalization if your symptoms become severe.
  • You can say who can and cannot visit you if you are in the hospital.
  • You can name the kinds of care you want medical staff to try before they resort to more serious measures like restraints.

You should attach your Power of Attorney form to your Mental Health Advance Directive.

If you don't have a Power of Attorney form, you should fill out a Durable Power of Attorney form too.

Under state law, you're capable of making your own decisions if you don't have a guardian and no judge has found you to be "incapacitated." You can read the state law about this, including the legal definition of capacity, at RCW 71.32.020.

You can also change or cancel your Mental Health Advance Directive at any time.

It's best if you sign your directive in front of a notary.

If you can't find a notary, you can sign in front of 2 witnesses. Here's a list of people who cannot witness your signature:

  • Someone you've given power of attorney for health care to
  • Your medical provider
  • An owner or employee of any facility where you're a patient or where you live
  • Anyone related to you
  • Anyone who you're dating
  • Anyone who could profit from you getting mental health treatment

You should give it to any medical providers involved in your mental health treatment and any agent you've named in your directive and Power of Attorney form.

You should also ask your local hospital if they'll put it on file for you.

Yes. There are directives for care if you have a serious or terminal illness or dementia.

You can find information about these other directives at WashingtonLawHelp.org.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

Download Instructions and Form

Last Review and Update: Apr 23, 2024
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