Seventhman Blog

Dec 19
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Ulysses Agreement Mental Health

Advance directives on psychiatric care are debated in a number of Western societies. The application of prior psychiatric guidelines (or so-called “Ulysses” contracts) would allow mentally ill patients who are competent and in remission with their illness and who wish to intervene in a timely manner in the event of a future mental crisis, to grant prior authorization for treatment at a later date if they are incompetent, are no longer compliant and refuse to take care. This would minimize the devastating consequences of recurrent psychosis. In my work, I have found that one of the best ways to address the fact that a parent has a mental health concern, and may require certain types of support at different times, is to create a plan that describes how friends, family and professionals can work together to focus parents on their recovery while their children know they and their parents are being cared for. Both are basic, otherwise the children are worried. The Ulysses Agreement is such a plan – a document that describes a way of doing things that the parent has developed in partnership with his or her support community. Where possible, it is also absolutely crucial for the adult child concerned to prepare a permanent power of attorney which would generally designate the parents as the child`s permanent counsel. This may be essential, given that the Ulysses agreement is a voluntary agreement and is legally inapplicable, but for the person empowered to make health decisions for the adult child, i.e. the permanent lawyer, the agreement provides a clear and concise expression of the adult child`s wishes with respect to his or her care and treatment, if the lawyer is ever to make such a decision. Conversely, it may be just as important for parents to have their own permanent mandate and to ensure that the document refers to any Ulysses agreement they have with their adult child. This ensures that the parents` permanent power of attorney is in accordance with the agreement.

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