Mental health conditions, or mental illnesses, are very complex and take many forms. There are various types and disorders, and which can range from mild to severe. Some might be more treatable. A person frequently can function quite normally. Unfortunately, other times the situation can become frustrating for the individual and additionally impact loved ones as well.
Guardianship nevertheless should not be a first step. Sometimes people believe that guardianship will fix problems during a mental health crisis or will prevent a mental health crisis. However, guardianship does not “fix” these problems. Guardians can agree to a hospital admission if it is ordered by a physician, and possibly consent to treatment, but guardians cannot force someone to take medication.
Mental illness is not a static condition. Symptoms may be intermittent and can come and go. Consequently, it is advisable that everyone involved in assisting the individual such as family members and friends consult and work with medical professionals, and even attorneys, that are well versed with these conditions in order to carefully evaluate all options.
There are various ways to support a person living with a mental illness. Therefore, it is important to have people immersed in mental health issues to advise you on rights and obligations to best attempt being helpful and responsive to the person’s individual situation.
A person with developmental disabilities may need support when they reach the age of 18. There are many options available for persons with developmental disabilities and alternatives to guardianship. Some examples include family guidance, a financial representative, special needs trusts, and assisted or supportive living services.
These alternatives can be used alone or in whatever combination is necessary to support the person to live as independently as possible. Similarly, to seeking advice and assistance from professionals and attorneys for mental health issues, it is important to do the same for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Additionally, another alternative involves guardian advocacy pursuant to Florida Statutes Chapter 393, involving developmental disabilities. In some Circuit Courts, prospective guardians can file these documents pro se (without an attorney). For further information, the State of Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) may be helpful.