Support a Relapse Prevention/Staying Well Plan
Relapse Prevention and Staying Well Plans are useful for any mental health problem that fluctuates over time. They are best done with a mental health professional who can also support the plan. Ask your Care Coordinator or GP if you want to explore this further. The important steps are:
- Identify and manage common triggers
- Spot early warning signs of changes in mental health
- Develop coping strategies to manage early warning signs and prevent them getting worse
- Understand what things keep us feeling well and make sure we do them
You can help with this plan in the following ways:
- Anticipate the kind of events that trigger relapses and offer additional support at these times – eg work stress, relationship breakups etc.
- Learn to spot early signs of a mood swing.
- Be part of a Relapse Prevention Plan to manage early signs when they do occur. This might include how to communicate if you spot early signs, and what to do if a more severe mood episode develops.
- Support regular social rhythms including sleep / wake times, eating and daily structure.
Being part of a Relapse Prevention plan can help your relative stay well, and can help you feel better because you know what to look out for and what to do if you are concerned. However, you can only be part of a relapse prevention plan if your relative wants you to be. If not, then it is likely that your attempts to get involved will lead to arguments and problems in your relationship.
Ideally a relapse prevention plan should be done with a health professional, who can also look out for early signs and be part of the plan to manage these. Sharing personal details about mental health problems can be very difficult and so your relative may prefer to work on a relapse prevention plan with their health professional only. In this instance, you might try and agree that even if you are not involved in developing the plan, that you have contact details for the health professional to contact if you are concerned about a mood swing.
It is likely that the amount your relative wants you to be involved with their care will change over time so you may need to need to be sensitive to this.
See ‘Module 10 – Treatment Options’ for more detail on ‘Staying Well Plans’.