Plan and think ahead. Know what steps to take if the mentally ill individual experiences a crisis. Locate available sources for help such as the individual’s therapist, the Emergency Service Program that covers your area, helpful friends or neighbors and your local NAMI affiliate. Keep these numbers posted by your telephone. If you have private insurance, contact the member services to find out what services are covered before they are needed. (Some insurance coverage includes only outpatient doctor visits and inpatient hospitalization). Some employers have employee assistance programs (EAP) that can offer resources to family members of employees. Contact the EAP to find out what, if any, resources they can provide.
Many people have found this guide helpful. You can download it and print it out. Mental Illness and Families: A Handbook for Caregivers 2009_NAMI_Mental_Illness_and_Families_booklet (32 pg Word document)
(1) The ill person’s diagnosis and medical conditions;
(2) Medications being taken as well as medications not tolerated; and
(3) Specific behaviors and actions that preceded and followed the crisis.
When needed, you may provide a copy of this information to the Crisis Team, mental health professionals or the police. Contact the Emergency Service Program (ESP) for your coverage area and ask about their procedures and what to expect. Many of the ESP’s will meet with your ill family member to develop a crisis plan that includes what they want and don’t want to happen. Write down as many of your questions as you can think of before picking up the phone and dialing the number. This way your thoughts are somewhat organized and you stand a chance of getting as much information as possible.
Recovery Learning Centers
Respite programs and Stabilization units
These options are discussed more fully under Peer Support Resouces.
Exercise regularly, eat appropriate meals, maintain a regular schedule with time off for fun and relaxation and most importantly get an adequate amount of sleep.