Creating A Mental Health Plan
Psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers and other mental health professionals use mental health plans, also called treatment plans, as a tool to effectively treat patients. With a clear plan in place, it is easier to track progress, stay organized and keep a record of an individual’s care.
Treatment choices for mental health conditions vary from person to person. Even people with the same diagnosis have different experiences, needs, goals and objectives for treatment. Being actively involved in designing a mental health plan, including defining recovery and wellness goals, choosing supporting services and evaluating treatment decisions and progress, adds to experience of therapy and improves outcomes. With collaboration, the result is a strength-based treatment plan that reflects the best interests of the person in therapy; specially designed to meet their needs, giving clear directions towards growth and healing.
Together with a mental health professional well-rounded and integrated treatment plan that may include counseling, support groups, education programs, medication, and other strategies that will work best will be developed.
- Anyone who has a mental health problem that lasts longer than six months and needs the care of three or more health professionals will benefit from a mental health plan.
- Everyone’s treatment needs are different – a mental health plan can help work out what services are best.
- A mental health plan explains the support provided by each member of the care team, who is responsible for what and when.
- Your mental health plan should be reviewed regularly to make sure it continues to meet your needs.
Mental health plans for people who have several healthcare professionals working with them should explain the support provided by each of those professionals and when treatment should be provided. A mental health plan might also include what to do in a crisis or to prevent relapse.
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Reasons for a mental health plan
Providing ongoing care and support for someone who is living with a mental illness can involve many different support organizations. These may include psychologists, GPs, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses or other community care providers. They are all part of the healthcare team, which works together to provide you with the best level of care possible.
Everyone’s treatment needs are different. A mental health plan puts down in writing the support you can expect from each of the people in your mental healthcare team and makes sure that everyone knows who is responsible for what and when. You are an important part of this team and should be fully involved in preparing your mental health plan.
Preparing your mental health plan
Your mental health provider will work with you to decide:
- What your mental health needs are
- What help you require – your medical, physical, psychological and social needs are all considered
- What result you would like
- What treatment would be best for you.
Once you and your provider have agreed on your goals and what support you need to achieve them, your provider will write out a mental health plan. They will then discuss this with the other members of your healthcare team. Preparing the plan might take one visit or it might take a number of visits.
Your provider will offer you a copy of the plan and will also keep a copy on your medical record. If you give permission, a copy can also be given to other people, such as other care team members. You should tell your provider if there is any information you don’t want other people in your healthcare team to know.
Benefits of a mental health plan
Having a mental health plan will help you become more involved in your healthcare. A mental health plan can:
- Help you to set and achieve goals
- Make sure everyone involved in your mental healthcare team is working towards the same goals
- Help you and your doctor manage your long-term care in a way that is clear and easy to understand
- Give you a way to monitor your progress and check that you continue to receive the care you need
- Lead to better treatment by focusing on improving and maintaining your health rather than just dealing with problems as they arise
- Provide life-saving information in emergencies.
Issues to consider with mental health plans
Most mental health plans are usually completed in your provider’s office. The time it takes to draw up the mental health plan depends on your healthcare professional and the complexity of your situation.
Some things to think about include:
- You will need to request a long consultation with your provider to allow enough time to prepare your mental health plan and discuss your treatment options.
- If you would like a caregiver, family member or someone else to accompany you to the mental health plan appointments, you may wish to let your provider know beforehand.
- Your provider must get your consent before a mental health plan is developed, and you should be given a written statement of your rights and responsibilities.
- Discuss with your provider any aspects of your assessment that you do not want discussed with the other members of your healthcare team.
Regular reviews are important
Once you have a mental health plan, you should continue to see the same doctor for review and management. Significant changes in your health may mean you need to make a new mental health plan. Even if there are no big changes to your situation, your mental health plan should be reviewed regularly to make sure it continues to meet your needs.
How often a new plan is prepared may vary depending on which health professionals are involved. Mental health plans may be prepared every 12 months and should be reviewed after three or six months, or sooner if needed. A date for review should be written into your mental health plan.