Mental Health & Wellness

Tips for Preparing a Crisis Plan

Health is fragile, mental, physical, emotional, all of it. In general, we’re a lot closer to being in a crisis than we are to being in a utopian state of being. Contrary to popular belief, mental health issues do not just affect distinct people, it impacts everyone, yet we carry on as such. It’s a colossal disservice to us all; navigating the obstacles of stigmatization and access to treatment only adds to the distress. There are so many internal and external factors that affect our mental wellbeing: culture, healthcare, housing, employment, finances, genetics, disability, parenting, education, and simple everyday things. Having a better state of health involves addressing these factors as well; it’s not as simple as only suggesting therapy.

Before we know it, as we’re doing our best to survive, we may find ourselves in a crisis. We may struggle to breathe air, choking on invisible waves of sadness, fear, and pain. We may struggle to see a future for ourselves, one without tearful nights, chronic exhaustion, and feelings of emptiness. We may struggle to connect with others, feeling alone, feeling like a burden, or feeling misunderstood. We are all capable of being there and knowing someone that is. We need to give ourselves and others compassion and grace.

A mental health crisis is typically a situation where one’s behavior puts themselves or others at risk of harm. If you have ever experienced a crisis, which looks different for everyone, you may have experienced an overwhelming loss of control. The heaviness of everything weighing on you prevents you from being able to think, speak, feel, and act as you would if you were well. Your family and friends, who may or may not know your behaviors, also do not know how to act. It’s very isolating and scary. Developing a crisis plan is a tool to assist yourself and your loved ones with managing your care in the event of a crisis. A helpful, physical guide to intervene and initiate the steps you need to cope and stabilize. Preparing a crisis plan in advance can be lifesaving; it’s a vulnerable action that takes into consideration your complex humanness. A crisis plan can be kept in a safe place or copies can be distributed to the people closest to you. Taking the time to work with others, listening to yourself, and writing in detail your needs, without fear and judgment, is a form of both physical and mental love and care.

Here are a few things to consider when preparing a crisis plan:

  • Include identifiable information such as your name, address, phone number, birth date, and gender. Additional information can be the names of your children, their schools, your pets, and your religious beliefs.  
  • Identify your primary emergency contact(s) and their information.  
  • Identify contacts to avoid.  This is equally important. 
  • Include important medical information that impacts you. For example, your primary care provider, medications you are currently taking, medications you’ve taken in the past, medications you are against, preferred hospitals, or outpatient services.
  • Describe yourself on a good day; when you’re feeling well and what that looks like for you. 
  • What feelings are the most difficult for you to experience or process? For example, grief, anxiety, fear, loneliness, etc. Write out the specific feelings and provide insight into how you may feel, react, or cope.  
  • Describe yourself at different times of crisis and how they may differ from other times in your life. Consider behaviors you may exhibit, even those that may alarm other people.
  • Provide instructions or insight on how you would prefer people to react to you and your behaviors. Discuss how these behaviors make you feel. For example, what do you need to hear or DON’T NEED to hear. What makes it better? What makes it worse?  What do you personally need to do? 
  • What types of support do you need or seek? And why? Identify people, places, things, or organizations that have previously brought you comfort or were helpful.  A handy resource list for yourself. 
  • What motivates you to reach out for support? Think about how you decide when you need help. 

These situations are scary. Sharing your experiences with others or even saying the words out loud to yourself can be disheartening. There is strength in being able to recognize your moments of need and trusting others to come to your aid. It’s hard to say you’re not okay, but the people who love you may surprise you. Not everyone can step up or know what to do, but that does not mean no one will. We are all capable of feeling so much, we can’t deny them, even the negative ones. Be gentle with others, but especially yourself.

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Crisis Resources

24/7 Crisis Hotline: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

The Trevor Project  (LGBTQIA+ specific) 1-866-488-7386

Crisis Text Line
Text TALK to 741-741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7

Veterans Crisis Line Send a text to 838255

Vets4Warriors

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline (Substance Abuse) 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 1-866-331-9474

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