Mental Health Safety PlanYou Can Plan for Better Mental Health
Developing a mental health safety plan is a wise idea for anyone who struggles with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. This safety plan includes tools that help you stay in a positive or calm state of mind as well as identifying resources you can use if you become overwhelmed with suicidal thoughts.
Surround Yourself With a Positive & Supportive Environment
- Avoid Negative Thinking – Removing yourself from the people, places and things that bring you down. With practice, you can resist worry and fearful thoughts.
- Make Yourself a Priority – Routinely engage in positive actions and interactions that feed your spirit and improve your quality of life.
- Think Positive – Develop an optimistic, hopeful and confident outlook on the future.
- Be Mindful – Cultivate a state of consciousness that is present, attentive and non- judgmental.
- Express Gratitude – Commit to remaining aware of circumstances you are grateful for; situations from which you have benefitted.
- Give – Invest time and energy in serving people and projects that bring purpose and meaning to your life.
Check In With Yourself
Take time to check in with yourself – to make sure that you are taking care of you physical and emotional needs. Ask yourself these questions:
- Have I eaten regular meals?
- Have I showered and brushed my teeth?
- Have I connected with someone I love?
- Have I gotten any exercise today?
- Have I spent some time outdoors?
- Have I avoided comparing my life to other peoples’ lives?
- Have I thought kind thoughts about myself?
- Have I found things to be grateful for?
Set Mental Health Goals
Setting goals and having regular check-ins with yourself will help you commit to self care and realign your thinking in order to keep a positive outlook.
Daily / Weekly Positive Mental Health Checklist
- Move your body
- Eat healthy
- Get enough sleep
- Take a screen time break
- Find 3 things you’re grateful for
Monthly Mental Health Checklist
- Finish reading a book
- Take a 1-day break from social media and news
- Try a creative activity
- Help someone or get involved with a community service project
Be Aware of Common Triggers
When trauma isn’t fully processed, the brain may behave as if the original threat is still present – weeks, months or even years after the traumatic incident occurred. Details associated with the memory – like sights, sounds, thoughts or smells – can trigger a detailed memory and intense emotional response, making you feel like you’re experiencing the trauma all over again.
People – Running into someone related with the traumatic event, or encountering someone with physical traits similar to someone related to the trauma.
TV Shows, Movies or News – Reference that reminds you of the traumatic event.
Sounds – Gunshots, explosives, yelling or sirens
Visual Cues – A specific color, item of clothing, house, or street sign.
Smells – Scent of a person, or their cologne; the smell of smoke, books or mildew.
Language – Specific words or phrases that remind you of the event.
An Associated Day – Anniversary date of the trauma or court dates.
Tips for Dealing with Triggers
Sometimes the best way to deal with a trigger is to avoid it. This may mean making changes to your lifestyle, relationships, or your daily routines.
Create a strategy for confronting triggers. This includes establishing a list of safe, trusted people. And it can also mean putting together a list of phrases that can help you get out of sticky situations.
Practice your coping skills before you find yourself triggered so you can easily use them when you need them most.
Prepare and Practice Coping Techniques
Positive and encouraging self-talk can make a dramatic difference in our ability to cope – especially during stressful situations. Make an effort to commit the following phrases to memory and create some meaningful phrases of your own:
- I am always important, no matter what.
- This is tough, but so am I.
- This hurts, so I need to be extra kind to myself.
- Not everything goes my way, but I will remain flexible.
- It’s not so great right now, but it’s not the worst thing either.
- I am strong and I know I will get through this.
- I have dealt with harder situations and I know it will get better.
- Everything will get better sooner or later.
Keep Your Own Mental Health Safety Plan with You, Always
With a little, simple preparation, you’ll be equipped to handle even the most stressful situation. Be sure to keep the information with you at all times. Enter the information into your smartphone or keep it in your wallet. Your personal mental health safety plan can help other people help you, when you need it most.
Step 1: Know your warning signs (thoughts, images, moods, situations, behaviors) that alert you that a crisis may be developing.
Step 2: Make a list of coping strategies – things you can do to take your mind off problems without contacting another person (relaxation techniques, physical activities, etc.).
Step 3: Make a list of people and social settings that provide distraction.
Step 4: Make a list of people you can reach out to help, along with contact information.
Step 5: Make a list of professionals and agencies you can contact during a crisis, including:
- Clinician Contact Information
- Local Urgent Care Services Contact Information
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Step 6: Make a list of ideas for making your environment feel safe.