A Mental Wellbeing Plan may be of use if you are supporting someone who is living with ongoing mental health issues. When responding to the needs of a friend, colleague or loved one during a crisis, it can be difficult to know what type or level of support the person might want. Working and planning with the individual when they are well, to clarify and organise the appropriate medical, personal and social supports that will help you to assist them appropriately when they need it, can be very helpful.
One way to do this is to arrange a plan that details the supports that they may need – both when they are well and when they are unwell. This plan is sometimes called an Advanced Directive, an Illness Management Plan or a Personalised Wellbeing Plan. The title of the document is not important, but the intention and tools it provides is where the power lies.
The idea is that when a person is well, they gather together their main supports. This may include next of kin, medical practitioners, caseworkers from community services, their best friend, etc. They then work with their supports to determine a plan for what they will do to stay well, and what support and arrangements to make if they become unwell. This information is then documented, and all parties receive a copy so that should the need arise, family, friends and support workers can work as closely as possible to the persons wishes. The principle of this plan is that each individual experiencing periods of being unwell has the power to choose their preferred care and support while they are well. This helps to increase an individual’s agency over their own life. It also increases the chances of their wishes being met when they are possibly not able to express their wishes in the same way.
Mental Wellbeing Plan
Plan for Mental Wellbeing
The specifics to cover in this documentation might include some or all of the following:
- The names of the people involved in developing the mental wellbeing plan.
- The date the plan is first written, and when it will be reviewed. (e.g. 3 / 6 /12 months) Reviews are a good idea as your circumstances and relationships may change.
- What the individual is doing proactively to manage their illness.
- The signs that a person might notice in themselves if they are becoming unwell and what actions they will take / support they will seek at that stage.
- The signs that others might notice if the individual is becoming unwell.
- If someone notices these signs, state in the plan what they should do. (supply a name and number of who to contact, and what actions should be taken).
- Personal arrangements that the individual would like actioned on their behalf should they become unwell, for example:
Mental Wellbeing Plan – Personal Arrangements
- Is someone nominated to continue paying household bills, so the person doesn’t get evicted or have the electricity cut off?
- Who will collect and if necessary open mail if the individual is in hospital?
- Is someone nominated to contact the individual’s employer to request time off, and if so what language should be used to describe the situation?
- Who would the individual like to have look after children or pets if they are unwell or in hospital and unable to care for them?
- In a workplace setting, a plan for mental wellbeing might include:
Mental Wellbeing Plan – Workplace Arrangements
- clarify who to contact (e.g. family or mental health professional) if the person becomes unwell while at work,
- stipulate the level of disclosure that can occur with colleagues when a person is having time off work due to being unwell,
- outline the preferred type (e.g. telephone / email / text message) and frequency (e.g. weekly, monthly) of contact while the person is on leave.
All parties should sign the agreement and review and revise as appropriate. This is intended as a tool to increase an individual’s agency over the assistance they receive when they are unwell. It also increases the confidence of loved ones and supporters in knowing what actions to take should it be required.
For further support for family and loved ones, contact Helping Minds.