Mental Health Problems and Stigma - Overview
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
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
- 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.