Mental health psychiatric advance directives, advance statements, and similar documents are designed to convey a person’s treatment preferences to their treating clinicians at times when, due to their mental health, their ability to communicate or make decisions might be impaired. This paper explores the current debates in the literature and presents the findings of a small qualitative study that explored the experiences of people who had completed advance statements in Victoria, Australia. Data was collected through interviews with participants and analysis of their advance statement. Participants completed their advance statements for two main reasons; to authorise future treatment or to limit the power of their treating team. Participants also included non-treatment preferences that were linked to their recovery and pragmatic considerations, such as contact details and dietary requirements. Participants who had used their advance statement reported a lack of acceptance or inclusion from clinicians. Further consideration of the legal enforceability of advance statements is necessary, and if they are to continue to lack legal force, much work remains to be done to support acceptance by clinicians.
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