NEWS // July 10, 2018

Prepare for a Mental Health Crisis With an Action Plan

Author: Oscar Talaro, Administrative Analyst III, County of San Diego Behavioral Health Services

One in five adults in America will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. This alarming statistic shows that mental health affects a large portion of our community. It is up to us to know the signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis to help build a supportive community for those who may need additional resources.

There are many safety measures that can be put in place to be prepared in the event of a mental health crisis. One way we can be proactive is by having an action plan ready.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a good mental health action plan has these important elements:

·        Identify people willing to help

·        List the phone numbers of the mental health providers and the mental health crisis team

·        Include a list of current medications and their dosages

·        List treatments that have been used in the past

·        Identify key words or calming techniques that have worked in the past

·        Identify your loved one’s preferred treatment facilities

·        Include a copy of their advanced psychiatric directive (if available)

The County provides programs that equip you and your family with the skills to respond to a psychiatric emergency until professional help arrives.

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour training program designed to improve participants’ mental health literacy and provides tools to respond to an emergency. In partnership with Mental Health America, the course provides education on how to help people with a mental illness or substance use problem or are who experiencing a mental health crisis. These specialized classes are available in both English and Spanish and are free to members of the community.

Further support is provided by the It’s Up 2 Us campaign. This localized campaign aims to empower San Diegans to learn about mental health and reduce stigma.  The San Diego Access and Crisis Line provides personalized resources and on-demand support by phone (888) 724-7240, as well as a live chat feature that is available Monday through Friday 4 pm – 10 pm.

Through talking openly, recognizing symptoms and being aware of resources, we can all be better prepared to help others struggling with mental health and substance use problems.