It's good to prepare your family for times when you might experience a mental health crisis
Writing a family care plan can help
Many parents experiencing mental illness find there are periods where they're well, and then some periods of 'crisis' when they may be unable to cope and need extra support or emergency help. It may be decided that you need to get extra help in a hospital or a clinic.
It can help your child (and your entire family) to be prepared for these times by creating a family care plan. It's a 'just in case' plan that lets everyone (including family members and health professionals) know what your family's wishes are when things get tough, particularly for those who might not know you well.
A family plan is not a legally binding document, but is written to outline your family's preferences and to maintain the familiarity of the everyday routine that your child needs to feel safe and secure during these times.
My kids felt more secure once we had a plan in case I became unwell or went to hospital again. Sarah, NT parent
The family plan should detail the following:
Your child's routine
How others can help to maintain this routine and your family's routine
How it might be best to stay in touch with your child when you're away
What you prefer your child is told about your illness or where you are in hospital.
A family plan is best written when you're well, together with someone close to you. You could sit down with your partner, child, family or your mental health professional to help you reflect on the questions and find services and supports that might help.
Care plan templates
See the templates below that you can use to lay out your preferences about the care of your baby, young person or the entire family: