Introducing MAPS

In the first of our resources series, we introduce the purpose of MAPS and what they may contain. We create this resource as a result of a series of discussion with people in the community who have lived experience of mental distress and/or support people who may have used mental health services before. You can read more about our research by following the article links below or getting in touch with us a contact@mapmymentalhealth.com.

What is a MAP?


A Mental-health Advance Preferences Statement (MAPS) is a way to let people know what you would like to have happen if you experience an episode of mental distress. It can give you a voice when you might not normally be heard because you are too unwell or not in a position to be able to speak for yourself.

Sometimes MAPS are referred to ‘advance directives’ in Aotearoa.

Why have a MAPS?


MAPS can let your care team know about things important to you and that you believe will help in your recovery. While MAPS does not override the powers to treat provided by the Mental Health Act, or the rules about privacy of health information under the Privacy Act, you generally have the right to be provided with care that takes into account your specific needs, values and beliefs, and your MAPS is a good way of making sure your treatment team knows what these are.

Your MAPS can be used in any situation where you do not feel able to speak for yourself regarding your mental health care treatment.

How are MAPS created?

We invite you to take the opportunity to prepare a MAPS with the support of a person you trust. This support person needs to knows you well enough to confirm that you are making this MAPS voluntarily and that the information it contains reflects what you wish to say to your treatment team.

While it is not required, we encourage you to discuss your MAPS with your clinical team and with family/whānau after you have completed it, so they are aware of your preferences before a crisis occurs.

A map guide for things to think about when creating MAPS

What can be included in a MAPS?

Our diagram above gives you some ideas that you might want to think about when writing your MAP. You can include statements regarding any or all of the items we suggest or add other ones you think are important to you.

The MAP adds to your existing medical records, so it is not necessary to use it to explain your entire mental health history. It is also important for you to realise that it is not a substitute for an assessment by a healthcare professional but another tool for you and your team to use to understand how you, as an individual, would benefit most from the treatment options available.

Remember this is your personal MAPS

Your MAPS is not a fixed document. Your ideas about what works for you, or who you want to have involved in your care, can change. For the MAPS to be most effective, it should be reviewed and updated regularly (e.g. every 18-24 months), again with the support of with someone you trust. We would also recommend revisiting your MAPS after a crisis – once you feel able to do so.

What happens with completed MAPS?

Your MAPS will become a part of your medical records, but only people who are involved in your care will have access to it. The information in your MAPS will be available to the staff of mental health services.

We recommend you keep one copy for yourself and give copies to other people you believe would be helpful (such as a family/whānau member or support person). If you need to have copies provided, we can help with that.

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