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What to Do In a Mental Health Crisis (Game Plan for Hard Moments)

What is a crisis plan?

A crisis plan is a personalized list of signs, strategies, and supports to help you during an otherwise overwhelming or scary situation. While a crisis plan can help you to prepare for an actual mental health crisis or manage a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, it can also be used to prepare for any upcoming challenge you’re stressed out about. When “crisis plan” seems too intense, it can be helpful to think of it more as your “game plan for hard moments.”

A crisis plan can help you to:

  • Respond to fear, anxiety, and stress in a productive way.
  • Focus your attention and energy on what’s in your control.
  • Anticipate and effectively prepare for specific needs.
  • Assemble your support system in advance.
  • Feel more prepared for challenging moments.

The key? Make a plan BEFORE you actually need it.

A simple crisis plan will include:

1. Your Signs

  • Signs that it’s time to activate your strategies.
  • Signs that it’s time to activate your supports.
  • Signs that the crisis has passed.

2. Your Strategies

  • Strategies you can use to keep the crisis from getting worse.
  • Strategies you can use to manage the crisis if it does get worse.
  • Strategies to connect with a sense of calm and safety after the crisis has passed.

3. Your Supports

  • Personal supports (ex: trusted family members, friends) and the specific type of support they can offer.
  • Professional supports (ex: your therapist, medical providers, community organizations) and the specific type of support they can offer.

Needing help to create your crisis plan?

If you’re feeling stuck, know you don’t have to make this plan alone. Sometimes we recognize a need for additional strategies or support before we know what that actually looks like. Consider meeting with a perinatal therapist who can get to know your unique situation and help you get unstuck. For information about finding perinatal mental health support in California, click here.

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