Minor children are generally dependent on their parents for basic necessities and the management of their care. Parents can make decisions on behalf of their minor child, from what school they should go to, to what medical care they should receive, because young children do not have the capacity to make informed decisions such as these.
When children grow into adults, they are usually able to manage their lives independently, without anyone else making decisions for them. However, if an adult has a physical or mental disability that makes them unable to lead their life, they may need someone to manage certain things for them. This is legally known as a guardianship.
How do guardianships work?
A guardianship is a legal tool that allows one person to make decisions on another person’s behalf. They usually are able to gain these rights because the person has become incapacitated in some way. For example, a guardianship could be put in place for a person who is in a coma after a car accident. This enables the guardian to make medical decisions on their behalf and to manage their finances during the period of incapacity.
How do guardianships help those with mental health issues?
Those who have mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may go through a period where they are unable to manage key aspects of their lives. They may be perceived to be a danger to themselves or others, or they may be in a situation in which they are unable to carry out basic day-to-day activities such as managing their finances or preparing food. In this situation, they may greatly benefit from a trusted person such as their parent becoming their legal guardian so that they can be cared for appropriately.
If you have a loved one who is struggling to manage their lives because of mental health issues, you may want to look into your options for becoming a guardian.