The mental health power of attorney is perhaps the least known document of the advanced directives. However, it is incredibly important for Arizonans to have. As with health care and financial powers of attorney, this document is critical for all of us regardless of age or present health condition.
If you were ever to require hospitalization in a Level 1 behavioral health facility, it is imperative that you have a mental health power of attorney in place. One does not have to have a history of mental illness to be at risk for hospitalization in a behavioral health facility. Treatment can be needed for something as simple as a medication interaction affecting mood or behavior. Behavioral issues are also commonly related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
If inpatient behavioral health treatment is required, the patient is unable or unwilling to accept treatment, and there is no mental health power of attorney, then there is no alternative other than to pursue emergency guardianship. A regular health care power of attorney does not have the authority in Arizona to make decisions related to mental health. The same is true of a surrogate decision-maker, which is the person health care professionals look to based upon a hierarchy of familial relationships to make decisions for a patient who has not executed a power of attorney document.
You can download a free mental health power of attorney form along with all of the other advanced directives right off of this website at www.arizonaseniorlaw.com.