Advance Will: Ensuring the Right to Autonomy for People with Mental Disabilities
Keywords:advance will, advance directives, right to autonomy, mental illness, mental disability, mental health, mental health care
People with chronic mental illnesses (e.g. bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, etc.) find it hard to maintain normal and independent everyday life. Due to these illnesses, people usually lose competence to make autonomous decisions about their treatment. However, in some cases those people are still competent to make reasonable decisions before the times of relapse or at the early stage of disease. As a possible solution, some jurisdictions offer instruments to express a patient’s will in advance (e. g. advance directives), where mentally ill patients may state their treatment and care preferences for the future time of incompetency. Although there is a lot of criticism presented by the scholars, legal instruments based on advance will may undoubtedly contribute to ensuring mentally disabled patients’ fundamental rights and quality of life. Therefore, this article will include an introduction of advance directives, the advantages this tool represents and discuss main regulation challenges.
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