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Mental Health Problems and Stigma - Overview

Legal concerns

People with mental health problems have the same rights as other citizens. For example, you have the right to vote and to take part in legal agreements, such as marriage, divorce, and business ventures. Most states and many health care groups have a bill of rights for people with mental health problems. These rights include the right to privacy (or confidentiality) with respect to your illness and treatment plan and the right to treatment that places the fewest possible restrictions on your lifestyle.

People with mental health problems sometimes have symptoms that make decision making hard. It's good to prepare legal documents to help in case this happens. It's best to do this when you have few or no symptoms.

  • An advance directive tells your wishes for treatment when you have severe symptoms.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care says who will be in charge of making decisions when you are not able to make them for yourself. This document can be very helpful if your symptoms become so bad that you need someone you trust to make treatment decisions for you.
  • A power of attorney lets you choose someone to help you deal with money if your symptoms keep you from doing this on your own. Find someone you trust to co-sign financial documents, such as credit card applications or mortgages, to protect yourself financially while you are having symptoms.

For more information, see the topic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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