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Celebrating National Recovery Month through Awareness of Psychiatric Advance Directives

Friday, September 25, 2020
By Marvin Swartz, MD
Doctor writing "MENTAL HEALTH" on a window with marker

In honor of National Recovery Month (September), Marvin Swartz, MD, professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, published a blog post on the Wilson Center for Science and Justice website about the value of psychiatric advance directives in giving people with serious behavioral health disorders some agency in directing their treatment in a future crisis. Dr. Swartz is a member of the Behavioral Health Core at the Center.

He writes:

National Recovery Month is a national observance every September to educate Americans that persons with behavioral health disorders can live healthy and rewarding lives. Recovery month is also an opportunity to reflect on the struggle to achieve recovery and the critical value of treatment and other support services.

Unfortunately, some individuals with serious behavioral health disorders struggle to preserve their autonomy and avoid treatment they would not choose for themselves during mental health crises, in times when they cannot make competent choices about preferred treatment. During such times, the most common alternative for clinicians is initiating involuntary treatment whereby clinicians choose the treatment and often place individuals in crisis under temporary law enforcement custody. In retrospect, when recovered, many affected individuals deeply regret their loss of control and wish for a mechanism to preserve autonomy and direct treatment in a future crisis.

Read the full post on the Wilson Center for Science and Justice website.