How to Make a Mental Health Crisis Plan

Making a Mental Health Crisis Plan
Making a Mental Health Crisis Plan. Credit to Green Chameleon of unplash.com. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

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.

Conclusion

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.

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10 Frugal Gifts for People Who Suffer from Anxiety

A racing heart. Panting breaths. Tunnel vision.

Chances are, you’ve felt anxiety in your life, and you know how terrible it is. Many of our loved ones manage anxious thoughts and feelings every day.

But what if you could give a friend or loved one something to help soothe them? If you have someone who in your life suffers from anxiety, this gift guide is for you.

Last holiday season, I wrote a frugal gift guide for people who suffer from depression.

A lot of the gifts on this list overlap with that one, but feel free to check the depression post out for even more ideas!

Preface

I’d like to preface this gift guide by saying that whomever you’re giving gifts to, keep in mind whether the recipient will actually be able to use the gift. People who suffer from depression are easily overwhelmed. You want to offer them a present which won’t overwhelm them, and you definitely don’t want to have expectations that they will use the gift.

Presents don’t have to be expensive, but if they’re thoughtful, your loved one will appreciate them. If you can, do some research to figure out what your loved one likes and is into. Look into their social media posts and find out what he or she is posting about. That can give you a clue as to what your friend or loved one enjoys.

If you are a frugal person buying for a frugal person, the best gifts you can give are practical ones. Most frugal people are content with what they have, and don’t want to fill their houses with stuff they won’t use. So the best gifts you can give, aside from time, are consumables, like food, journals, or gift certificates to places they like.

With that in mind, here are 10 frugal gifts for people who suffer from anxiety:

1. Weighted Blanket

Imagine a situation where you’re antsy and distracted. Then imagine a full-body embrace. Imagine deep pressure enfolding your arms, your legs, your chest. Now imagine a calm passing over your frantic mind.

This is the soothing feeling of a weighted blanket.

Weighted blankets have been used by occupational therapists the world over to help calm their patients, both children and adults alike. Glass beads are partitioned out in pockets and sewn together in sections.

When picking out a weighted blanket, there are two rules of thumb to follow: the chin-to-feet rule, where you use a blanket that covers your whole body, and the 10% rule, where you use a blanket that is 10% of your body weight.

Keep these rules in mind when picking out a weighted blanket for your loved one, and you’ll be golden.

2. Essential Oil Diffuser

Aromatherapy has long been a practice to soothe people. Scents like lavender and pine have calming effects on the mind.

This is due to the fact that lavender has been linked to the same neuron receptors as powerful anti-anxiety medications. Calming scents, and lavender in particular, trigger your brain to produce more feel-good chemicals.

So why not get your loved one an essential oil diffuser? They’ll love it.

3. Worry Rings

A “worry item” is something you can hold in your hands to fidget with. Fidgeting is a natural habit that helps ground people who suffer from anxiety, so a worry item can be very useful.

A worry ring or spinner ring helps take your loved one’s mind off whatever’s distressing them. They will wear their ring and think of you every time they fidget.

4. Mini Zen Garden

Raking sand and setting up stones doesn’t sound like it will relieve anxiety.

But a miniature zen garden is perfect for creating a small environment where your loved one will have complete control over the patterns of the sand. A zen garden can be a very soothing activity for your friend or loved one.

5. Therapy

Everyone needs someone to talk to.

Depending on how your loved one feels about therapy, signing them up with a few virtual sessions with a licensed therapist may be a wonderful gift. Your giftee may benefit immensely from only a few sessions and be encouraged to continue.

But take care when giving this gift.

You must know your recipient well and be able to preempt their reaction. And don’t let the sessions be a surprise. Talk with the person before giving them therapy as a gift, so they know what your intentions are.

If you give therapy to the right person, a few sessions could really help them!

For a post on how to start seeing a therapist, click here.

6. Adult Coloring Book

Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore.

This soothing activity is now for adults in the form of adult coloring books, which show complex patterns of animals, words, and mandalas, among other pictures.

Give your loved one a box of crayons and an adult coloring book, and watch their face light up.

7. Journal

Journaling has been proven to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Give your loved one the gift of a journal this holiday season. A nice Moleskin is a bit on the pricey side, but Moleskin makes excellent notebooks with leather-bound covers.

If you want to make the journal very special to your recipient, purchase it ahead of the gifting and write a positive affirmation or quote on the bottom of each page.

8. Yoga Mat

Downward facing dog. Mountain pose. Warrior I.

These are all yoga poses, from a practice which has been proven to help with stress and anxiety.

Why not give your loved one a yoga mat, so they can enjoy a few virtual sessions of yoga? If you want to go all out, spring for a work out DVD or some sessions with a professional yogi.

Like therapy, only give yoga sessions/mats if you know your recipient well and expect that they would enjoy working out.

9. Bath Salts

One of the best birthday gifts I ever received was a gift basket from my sister containing lotions, soaps, and a set of organic, deliciously-scented bath salts.

The salts were an especially soothing gift for me, as I was able to soak my troubles away in a tub that left my skin soft and my mind calmed with the scents.

Give your loved one the gift of scented bath salts this holiday season. Everyone needs to be clean.

10. Mug of Hot Chocolate to Share

And finally, the last gift on this list but certainly not the least, is a mug of hot chocolate to share.

There are some pretty cute mugs out there, some of which are funny and others of which can be sweet. Purchase a mug and some instant, powdered hot chocolate–or DIY some of your own with a recipe you can find online.

And then offer to share some hot chocolate with your loved one. What your loved one needs most is the gift of your time.

Even during a global pandemic, you can still set aside some time to virtually share a cup of hot cocoa with your loved one, right? You may have to schedule the visit and you can’t exactly hug each other, but your loved one will appreciate seeing your smiling face and catching up with you.

Conclusion

Shopping for gifts for a person who suffers from anxiety isn’t difficult.

You simply have to think about what you think would soothe your friend or loved one the most. Be it a yoga or therapy session, a long soak in the tub, or time spent sharing a mug of hot chocolate, do some thinking about what gift your loved one will enjoy.

I wish you well in your journey.

What gifts are on your list this year?

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American Crisis Hotline Numbers and Resources Master Post

Nearly 20% of American adults–up to 44 million–struggle with mental illness annually, including conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety, eating disorders, and a whole host of other issues. And sometimes, people end up in a

phone.jpg
A picture of a wireless phone with blue overtones. Credit to flickr.com user Synwell. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

mental health crisis, which is any situation where a person’s mood and behaviors impair functioning to the point where he or she can no longer care for himself or herself or perform his or her role in the community at large. This crisis can lead them to hurt himself or herself or others, so it needs to be addressed.

If you or a loved one are in a metal health crisis and need to talk to someone immediately, pick up the phone. You can call a crisis hotline and talk to a line operator who will be able to connect you with resources to tackle your current challenge. Hotlines are available to you whether you have insurance or not, and they are private. Some crisis lines won’t even appear on a phone bill, ensuring the confidentiality of the caller. Thoroughly-trained hotline operators will be able connect you with treatment providers in your area.

What Should I Ask the Hotline Operator?

Calling a mental health hotline doesn’t have to be intimidating. Hotline operators have a wealth of information to answer your questions about your issues  Consider asking some of these questions:

  • How do I get diagnosed? (For a post covering this topic from the Bipolar Parent, click here.)
  • Are there special techniques will work better for me, based on my diagnosis?
  • What happens if I have more than one condition?
  • How are metal health conditions treated?
  • What treatments are available in my area?
  • How do I know which type of doctor to see? (For a post covering this topic from the Bipolar Parent, click here.)
  • How long will I have to be in treatment?
  • Will I have to take medications, and can I ever stop taking them?
  • What is my next step?

If you are calling a hotline because you are concerned about a loved one, your questions may include:

  • How can I talk to my loved one about his or her diagnosis without upsetting him or her?
  • How can I help his or her recovery?
  • How do I know if his or her diagnosis is correct?
  • How do I get my loved one diagnosed?
  • What treatments are available in my area for my loved one, based on his or her diagnosis?
  • How can I encourage him or her to seek treatment?
  • What should I do in a crisis?
  • How do I ensure healthy boundaries while still caring for my loved one?

Mental Health Crisis Lines

If you need a warmline, which is a line run by volunteer peers who will listen to you vent your troubles confidentially before you hit a crisis, please see the previous post on the Bipolar Parent.

In any crisis, if you are in immediate danger, call 911. Make sure to let the operator know that you are in a psychiatric crisis and ask for officers trained in crisis intervention.

If you are looking for support, resources, and knowledge from an highly-trained hotline operator, call one of these nationwide crisis hotlines:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): (800) 950-6264. NAMI’s hotline’s hours of operation are weekdays from 10am to 6pm EST. Hotline operators can provide resources for support groups, legal support, and treatment centers, as well as information about mental illness.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): (800) 662-4357. SAMHSA operates a 24-hour mental health hotline. They provide connections to treatment, education, and support for mental health crises. They also run an online Behaviorial Treatment Locator to help you find treatment centers.
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): (866) 615-6464. NIMH also runs a live chat option, just in case you didn’t want to call. The telephone hotline and the chat are available Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5pm EST.
  • Mental Health America Hotline: Text MHA to 741741. MHA provides support through texts. You’ll be connected to an operator who can give you support through crises or just information.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255. This 24-hour Lifeline also provides a live chat.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741. You can also text NAMI to 741741. If you are in Canada, you can text HOME to 686868. If in the UK, text HOME to 85258. These are free, 24-hour crisis hotlines. These messages do not appear on a phone bill.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255. Text a message to 838255. Operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, this hotline offers help to military veterans and can connect them with the VA in their area.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233), (800) 787-3224 (TTY), (800) 942-6908 (Spanish).
    This 24/7 Trained operators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to victims of domestic violence. Spanish and other languages are supported.
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-HOPE (4673). A sexual assault service provider in your area will provide you with a variety of free resources. 24/7.
  • ChildHelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) or (800)2-A-CHILD (800-222-4453, TDD for hearing impaired). Multilingual ChildHelp operators can refer you to social services offering counseling for child abuse, as well as offer brief counseling over the phone. 24/7.
  • Boys Town Crisis and Suicide Hotline: (800) 448-3000 or (800) 448-1833 (TDD). Boys Town operators are trained to counsel you through parent-child conflicts, marital issues, pregnancy, suicide, runaways, and abuse. 24/7.
  • Covenant House Hotline: (800) 999-9999
    This crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for teens and adolescents, as well as their families. Topics covered range from drugs and homelessness to abuse and runaway children.
  • Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 829-1122.
  • STAND Against Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline: (888) 215-5555.
  • SafeQuest Crisis Line: (866) 487-7233 (4UR-SAFE). This 24-hour crisis line counsels victims of violence or sexual abuse. The line is nationwide, but California residents may receive state-certified emergency shelter support.
  • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders (ANAD): (847) 831-3438 (long distance).
  • Elder Abuse Hotline: (800) 252-8966.
  • Alzheimer’s Association Hotline: (800) 621-0379. Available Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 4pm EST.
  • Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Prevention Information Network: (800) 458-5231. Operators are available Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm EST, to answer question about HIV and AIDS.
  • National Sexually Transmitted Disease Hotline: (800) 227-8922. Available Monday-Friday, 8am to 11pm EST, to answer questions and provide referrals to free and low-cost clinics in your area.
  • Parent Hotline: (800) 840-6537. Parent Hotline is dedicated to helping parents in crisis. They offer a questionnaire to determine if a child is need of intervention.
  • Poison Control: (800) 222-1222.
  • Poison Control for any kind of substance: (800) 662-9886.
  • Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN) Crisis Hotline: (800) 656-4673.
  • National Teen Dating Helpline: (866) 331-9474. Operators will counsel teens who have been abused.
  • Missing Children Network: (800) 235-3535.
  • Hopeline: (800) SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
  • SOS Teen Hotline: (800) 949-0057.
  • Grief Recovery Helpline: (800) 445-4808.
  • National Safe Haven Alliance Crisis Hotline: (888) 510-BABY. If you are pregnant and have questions about how “Safe Surrendered Baby” laws can help you, or if you want to surrender your baby, call this toll-free number 24/7. There are many safe surrender sites around the US where you can safely hand over your baby with no questions asked, such as hospitals, fire stations, or lifeguard stations. If you are in crisis, you and your baby will be protected. Don’t abandon your baby in an unsafe place.
  • SOS Teen Hotline: (800) 949-0057.
  • National Youth Crisis Hotline: (800) 448-4663. Available 24/7 to provide short-term counseling and referrals to shelters, therapeutic services, and drug treatment centers. Aids youth dealing with pregnancy, physical and sexual abuse, and suicide.

Final Thoughts

If you or a loved one are suffering from a crisis, especially a mental health crisis, you don’t have to suffer alone. There are resources available to help you. Trained operators are standing by, waiting for your call. Pick up the phone and take the first steps out of despair.

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What Types of Therapies Are Right For You?

therapy
Credit to flickr.com user John Graham. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Therapy is a crucial part of treatment. There are several different types of therapies that your mental health professional may encourage you to take.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common types of psychotherapy, and is often preferred by many mental health professionals. During CBT, you work with a therapist to challenge negative thinking and develop constructive beliefs. That’s the cognitive part. The behavioral part helps you act on these beliefs.

CBT can be conducted one-on-one, or along with family, or with other people who have similar issues in a group setting. During CBT, you will learn about your mental illness and practice relaxation techniques and coping methods.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy focuses on the relationships you have with others, being based on the principle that relationships affect your moods. IPT also helps you express your emotions in healthy manners. The therapy is highly structured, and intended to finish in 12–16 weeks. IPT and CBT are the only therapies that are mandated for mental health professionals to be trained in.

Family Therapy

Family therapy goes by many names. To wit: it’s referred to as couple and family therapy, marriage and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling. The driving force behind family therapy is the thought that involving family members benefits patients. People undergoing the therapy learn how to communicate with each other and solve problems.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy operates on the principle that you have unconscious habits and emotions which developed early in life and cause difficulties in daily functioning. The therapy focuses on revealing and resolving these unconscious problems. Dream interpretation and free association are often used. This therapy is a treatment of choice for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but largely used to treat personality disorders.

Art Therapy

Art therapy uses art such as music and painting to help you resolve problems and reduce stress. Art therapists will work with you to help tease out messages from your art. They are trained in artistic practices and psychological theory. You do not need to be artistically talented or trained to make use of art therapy.

Psychoeducation

Psychoeducation is just as it sounds: education about your mental illness from a mental health professional. Psychoeducation can occur in a one-on-one setting or a group session, where several people are informed about their illnesses at once. Family members can also benefit from learning about your mental health condition, and are encouraged to sit in on psychoeducation sessions.

There are several therapies out there, and not every therapy works for every person. Stick with your therapy at first, to see if it works, and if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to try another.

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