Guardian Advocacy for Persons with Mental Illness
(Chapter 394.4598, F. S.)

The age of majority in Florida is 18. Florida's Chapter 394 within the statutes is considered Florida's "mental health statute," and specifically relates to adults with a diagnosis of mental illness. Guardian advocate under this chapter means a person appointed by a court to make decisions regarding mental health treatment on behalf of a patient who has been found incompetent to consent to treatment. The guardian advocate may be granted specific additional powers by written order of the court, as provided in Chapter 394.

A key distinction within Chapter 394 is the fact that the person is found to be incompetent to consent to treatment which is a different standard than that in Chapter 744, where the individual must be found to be incapacitated in order to have a surrogate decision-maker appointed.

Persons appointed as a guardian advocate under this statute are responsible to:

  1. Protect the informed consent rights of the person,
  2. Seek information needed to make informed decisions, and
  3. Make decisions concerning treatments that the person would have made using substituted judgment.

There are three types of Guardian Advocate appointments by the court.

  1. At the time of the involuntary placement hearing a person may be appointed as Guardian Advocate for a person who is incompetent to consent to his or her own mental health treatment.
  2. You may also be appointed at the same hearing to consent to general medical treatment.
  3. At a separate special court hearing, you may also be given the additional specific authorityto consent to any of the following:
    • Abortion,
    • Sterilization,
    • Electroconvulsive treatment,
    • Psychosurgery, or
    • Experimental treatments that have not been approved by a federally approved institutional review board.

Florida's Department of Children and Families is the state agency charged with providing mental health services. Click here to review more information about this agency's services. Scroll down near the bottom of this page to find the Guardian Agency Training and Resource Manual.

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