One of the last tasks my doctors at the psychiatric hospital made me do before releasing me to the wider world was to make an emergency health care plan for future mental health crises.
At the time, I thought this plan was stupid. I was manic and therefore invincible, and I would not be having any more mental health crises, thank you very much.
Once I came down from my high, I realized that having such a plan—with emergency numbers and the names of my doctors—in an accessible place was an excellent idea.
But how do you make a mental health crisis plan? And what is it?
What the Plan Is
A mental health crisis plan is a series of steps to take when you experience a psychiatric crisis. You write down the steps when you are well and place the completed plan in a place where you and your loved ones can reach any time you need it.
As a person with mental illness, having a crisis plan is of utmost importance. You never know when a mental health episode will strike and will knock you off your metaphorical feet.
Caregivers and crisis teams can help you best when they’ve been prepared to honor your wishes. So you need to tell them what those wishes are with a mental health crisis plan.
Making the Plan
An emergency mental health crisis plan should include:
- Your contact information and directions to your home.
- A description of what a crisis situation looks like for you.
- Contact information for your supporters.
- Phone numbers for your therapist, psychiatrist, and primary care physician, as well as any other doctors working closely with you to manage your mental health.
- A phone number for the local Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT). Do not hesitate to call the emergency number for your country as well.
- A list of all prescribed medications and doctors who prescribed them.
- A signed waiver from you giving all providers permission to speak to your supporters during the crisis, as well as giving supporters permission to speak to each other.
- Anything you need to be mindful about for your health in general (e.g. allergies, dietary restrictions, etc).
- Arrangements for your children should you need to be away from home.
- Similarly, arrangements for your pets should you need to be away from home.
- How supporters should settle disputes.
- A list of all prior hospitalization dates and previous major crises.
- A list of acceptable and unacceptable treatments and why (allergies, etc).
- A list of acceptable and unacceptable people involved in your treatment and why.
- Your signature and the signatures of two witnesses and (preferably) your attorney.
If you type a document up on a computer, you can change it whenever you like. Simply email an attached copy to your supporters. But keep a printed copy available in an accessible place in your home for your supporters as well.
If you are in a crisis, the last thing you need is to make decisions about your care. Make a mental health crisis plan today to prepare yourself and your caregivers to take care of your in a way that you find acceptable.