Home Safety Plans for People Challenged with Mental Illness

Benjamin Franklin is often credited with the idea that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Winston Churchill said something similar. Regardless of who was the first to come up with the idea, it is solid wisdom.

A good plan can make dealing with a crisis a little easier. Just as a family might need to discuss how to handle a fire—where to leave the house, where to meet, who to call—a plan for a mental health crisis can be equally beneficial. This type of plan may cover what signs signal that a crisis is impending, how to prevent escalation and who to call—including lists of phone numbers of mental health providers, family members and other types of assistance.

These plans come in many shapes and sizes. In the sources below, plans range from a simple one-page sheet identifying every person’s role to a multi-page document that tries to cover every potential situation.

Ultimately, any plan should be something that can be easily put in action. As Crisis Planning Tools for Families: A Companion Guide for Providers says: “A plan may look terrific on paper, but if a family does not use it, what good has it served?  If a comprehensive plan is developed for a family who is only ready for and interested in a pragmatic ‘If this, then this’ type of plan, the efforts have been useless. An unauthentic plan that is largely developed for rather than with a person/family can actually increase risk.”

It is important that families with a loved one challenged by mental illness think through the type of plan that works for them. Your mental health provider can help. With the right plan in place—identifying roles, responsibilities and resources—the outcome is much more likely to be successful.

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Sources:
KnowResolve.org’s one-page safety plan http://www.knowresolve.org/docs/safety-plan-web.pdf
Maine.Gov’s sample crisis plan http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/samhs/mentalhealth/rights-legal/crisis-plan/home.html
Crisis Planning Tools for Family: Provider’s Companion Guide https://www.masspartnership.com/pdf/Crisis-Planning-Tools_Guide_for_ProvidersFinal.pdf
National Alliance for Mental Illness Massachusetts Plan http://namimass.org/wp-content/uploads/Sample-Safety-Planning-Form-5-13-16.pdf