Search This Blog

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Prepare yourself...Just in case.

Be Prepared for an Emergency You will be more effective when crisis comes if you are prepared for it. These steps will help. On this page: Learn about mental illness Learn to recognize red flags Know the laws in your state Recruit backup support Develop an Emergency Contacts list Get a signed release of information form Build a CARE Kit Learn about mental illness READ ABOUT mental illness and its treatment in books or online and/or watch educational videos like the PBS special "Minds on the Edge." ATTEND public lectures or classes about mental illness offered in your community. Your public library, community college and local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) affiliate are typical sponsors. ENROLL in NAMI’s 12-week “Family-to-Family” course for families of people with severe mental illness. The course is free, and the information is practical and useful. ASK TO MEET with your loved one’s mental health provider(s) to get specific information about triggers and effective interventions in your own loved one. READ“Hope for Overwhelmed Family Caregivers ” on our website. This special issue of the Treatment Advocacy Center's newsletter Catalyst is devoted entirely to family-member strategies. DOWNLOAD AND PRINT "Eliminating Barriers: Tips for Advocates on Busting Through." This one-page flier is a quick summary of the strategies in the Catalyst family issue. Learn to recognize red flags (Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2001 by Irene S. Levine. All rights reserved.) BE ALERT to new symptoms or changes in severity of old ones. Differentiate normal from prolonged responses lasting more than 4-6 weeks. REMEMBER that it is "normal" to react to extreme stress with symptoms of depression, anxiety, changes in eating patterns, sleep disturbances, difficulties concentrating, and irritability. ENCOURAGE your family member to talk to their clinician for careful assessment if symptoms do not abate. REMIND your family member that now is not the time to forget to take medicine that is already being taken. Going off meds against medical advice can only make things worse. MONITOR the inappropriate use of alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. PAY ATTENTION to physical problems that may compound mental health issues. Know the laws in your state. Several forms of psychiatric intervention exist to address mental health crises, but they differ from state to state. You must know the ones that apply where your loved one resides. Use our website to learn about the laws and standards that apply in your state. Recruit backup support. Ask a stable and reliable family member, friend, neighbor, associate or other interested person to be on standby to back you up in an emergency. You may need more than one, e.g., someone who could personally look in with a loved one if you cannot; someone who could go with you to an ER and be an effective advocate for you and your loved one if you are too upset; someone who will stay at home with your other children while you go to the police station, etc. Develop an emergency contacts list. List telephone numbers, email addresses and any other information for reaching all the following that are applicable: Your standby support person(s) Mobile crisis team Psychiatric case manager Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) or PACT team Local mental health center or department Telephone hotline numbers for different crises: mental illness, suicide, domestic violence Local hospital/local emergency room 24/7 non-911 police/paramedic numbers Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), if local law enforcement has one Local advocates who can advise or support you Sympathetic public official with whom you’ve established a relationship Homeless shelter(s) Friends of your family member Employers or others who will need to be notified immediately if your loved one is hospitalized Private attorney/Legal Aid Services/public defender familiar with mental health law Make multiple copies of the list or store it in your portable electronic device. Provide copies to your standby support person and anyone who might be called upon to act in your absence. Never leave home without your list. Keep a copy at home, at work, in your car, in the briefcase you carry on trips – anywhere you might be when a crisis arises. Revisit and revise it regularly to make sure numbers and names are not out of date. Get a signed release of information form. If possible, have your loved one sign an authorization/release of information form so that health care providers can talk with you in a crisis. Your local hospital, mental health department, medial provider or similar should be able to supply you with the form. File a copy with any local facility where your loved one might be treated in a crisis and keep the original in your CARE Kit (below). Build a CARE Kit In addition to a “short list” of essential telephone numbers, a portable CARE (Critical Advocacy Resources for Emergencies) Kit will equip you for meeting with the variety of professionals you may encounter in a crisis. We suggest keeping your CARE Kit in a three-ring binder, file box or other easy-to-carry system and using letter-sized, one-sided paper or another format that can easily be faxed or e-mailed to police and mental health agencies. Keep your CARE kit where you can find it immediately and transport it easily in an emergency. Among the items it should contain? Psychiatric and medical history A brief, easy-to-read summary of vital statistics, psychiatric history and medication records to help medical providers make informed choices during a crisis. Limit this page to key facts. Leave space to add a description of clothing last worn in case that information is needed. Full name and date of birth Full address Psychiatric diagnosis(e.g., schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder) Age at diagnosis Any other pertinent medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, allergies) Current symptoms Current condition (e.g., suicidal, homeless, missing, vulnerable, violent, abusing substances, other) Psychiatrist’s name and number Local service provider’s name and provider (e.g., mental health clinic, therapist) Current medication name(s) Dates of previous hospitalizations and locations Past medication(s) that have helped Past medication(s) that have not helped Past history of symptomatic behaviors (e.g., running up huge debt, getting into car accidents, threatening family members, failing to care for basic needs) Dates of previous arrests or incarceration and charge(s) Current photograph Key physical characteristics: height, age, weight, hair color Full name, contact numbers and address for person to be contacted in an emergency Leave space to add a description of clothing last worn in case that information is needed. Handouts, forms and other informational materials. Examples might include: State standards for emergency psychiatric evaluation State standards for civil commitment Petition forms for civil commitment – multiple blank copies. Complete any general information ahead of time. Handouts, brochures, or other materials supplied to you by hospitals, law enforcement, mental health agencies, or others Authorization for release of information already signed by your loved one, if applicable Advance directive, if applicable. Advance directives are legal documents that allow individuals with mental illness to dictate aspects of their care in the event they become incapacitated by illness. The specific details of these legal documents vary widely from state to state but may include such information as who is authorized to make medical decisions if the individual is incapacitated. Most advance directives are immediately revocable, which is a significant limitation on the effectiveness of these instruments as that can allow individuals to nullify their previous treatment decisions even when suffering from impaired judgment. Identify resources Locate the NAMI chapter nearest you. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a family support and advocacy organization for people with psychiatric disorders and their families. Local chapters hold regular meetings. Local and state leaders are usually knowledgeable and willing to advise on the treatment options and procedures. Find your chapter online or via the national hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). Network with other families you can identify who have loved ones with mental illness. Ask them what strategies worked – or didn’t – in getting intervention for their loved ones in your community. Ask for the names of caring and effective service providers they know and other resources they have used with success. Your experience may be different, but it’s good to know what others’ have been. Identify the local facility or emergency room that performs emergency psychiatric evaluations. Call or visit and find out what procedures are followed when someone in a mental illness crisis presents there. Request copies of any relevant handouts they have outlining procedures. Identify any resources in your community for averting crisis or preventing one from escalating. One example is a hospital “safe room” where families or law enforcement may take someone who is becoming symptomatic, but not yet ill enough to be committed, and get temporary supervision or medication. A mobile crisis team is another. Privacy Policy | Sitemap Copyright © 2009 Treatment Advocacy Center 200 N. Glebe Road, Suite 730, Arlington, VA 22203 703 294 6001/6002 (phone) | 703 294 6010 (fax)

No comments:

Post a Comment