Safety Plans

Understand Safety Plans, their significance, and how to use them effectively for crisis management. Download our free Safety Plan template.

By Audrey Liz Perez on Jun 20, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is a Safety Plan?

A Safety Plan is a robust, preventive tool meant to help people experiencing suicidal thoughts or other mental health emergencies. This complete approach, particularly the Stanley Brown Safety approach, includes individualized strategies to assist individuals in recognizing and managing crises.

The Safety Plan is not a passive document but an active strategy to increase resilience and self-efficacy. It functions as a road map, directing people from the onset of a crisis, as indicated by early warning indicators, via various internal and external coping mechanisms, to a position of safety and stability.

This proactive strategy is an essential component of mental health management and suicide prevention, and it is commonly used as a therapist's aid. It encourages individuals to stay safe and take control of their mental health by supporting them in navigating their crises.

Key components of a Safety Plan

An effective Safety Plan typically includes the following components (Stanley & Brown, 2012):

  1. Warning signs: Identifying personal warning signs or triggers that may indicate an escalation of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. These signs can be thoughts, feelings, behaviors, or situations that signal a potential crisis.
  2. Coping strategies: Develop a list of healthy coping strategies that have been effective in the past for managing difficult emotions and thoughts. These strategies may include deep breathing exercises, physical activity, mindfulness, or accessing support from trusted individuals.
  3. Social support network: Establishing a network of trusted individuals, such as family members, friends, or peers, who can offer support and guidance during challenging times. It's essential to include their contact information and specify the circumstances under which they should be contacted.
  4. Professional resources: List contact information for crisis hotlines, mental health professionals, or local emergency services that can provide immediate support and intervention.
  5. Reasons for living: Identifying personal values, relationships, goals, or aspirations that provide meaning and purpose and serve as reminders of why it's important to stay safe.
  6. Environmental safety: Identifying potential risks or triggers in the immediate environment and developing strategies to minimize or eliminate them, promoting a sense of safety and control.

Printable Safety Plan

Download this Safety Plan to help ensure the safety of your clients.

Safety Plans for suicidal patients

A Suicide Safety Plan is a personalized plan that outlines warning signs, coping strategies, and a prioritized list of sources of support and professional resources for a person struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors. It serves as a practical guide to help them navigate through difficult times and reduce the risk of self-harm or a suicide attempt.

Creating a Safety Plan is a collaborative process involving the individual and their healthcare provider or mental health professional. Tailoring the plan to the individual's unique needs, strengths, and circumstances is essential. Regularly reviewing and updating the Safety Plan is recommended to ensure its relevance and effectiveness. Coordinating with a family member or other trusted people is also helpful when clients finish creating this plan.  

How does it work?

Helping individuals develop a comprehensive Safety Plan can be an effective tool in suicide prevention. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to utilize this resource effectively:

Step 1: Identify warning signs

The first step is to collaborate with the individual to recognize triggers that may indicate an escalation of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. These can include specific thoughts, feelings, behaviors, or situations that signal a potential crisis.

Step 2: Develop a coping strategy toolkit

Work together to create a personalized toolkit of healthy coping strategies that have proven effective for managing difficult emotions and thoughts. This can include activities like deep breathing exercises, physical activity, mindfulness practices, or engaging with trusted individuals or support systems.

Step 3: Establish a support network

Assist the individual in identifying a network of trusted individuals, such as family members, friends, or peers, who can offer support and guidance during challenging times. Record their contact information and specify the circumstances under which they should be contacted.

Step 4: Provide professional resources

Ensure the Safety Plan includes contact information for crisis hotlines, mental health professionals, local emergency services, or programs that can provide immediate support and intervention when needed. Additionally, identify any potential environmental risks or triggers and develop strategies to minimize or eliminate them.

Safety Plan PDF example (sample)

The practical use of a Safety Plan is frequently best understood through examples. So, we have included a sample Safety Plan in which potential scenarios and solutions are written to provide an illustrated guide on completing the plan. This sample describes the individual's distinctive warning indicators, coping mechanisms, social interactions, critical contacts, and probable lethal means reduction tactics. 

It is a practical reference for tailoring the strategy to the individual's specific circumstances and needs. If you found this helpful, feel free to access an online preview or download this PDF file by clicking on the link below.

Download this Safety Plan example (sample) here:

Safety Plan PDF example (sample)

Why use Carepatron as your Safety Plan app?

Using Carepatron as your Safety Plan app can offer a structured and confidential space to create, access, and manage a comprehensive plan tailored to individual mental health needs. Safety Plans are crucial for individuals who may experience crises, providing them with immediate strategies and resources to maintain their well-being.

Mental health information, particularly Safety Plans, is sensitive in nature. Carepatron ensures that this information is kept confidential by adhering to privacy and security standards with our HIPAA-compliant online forms, providing peace of mind that personal data is protected.

Safety Plans are not one-size-fits-all. Carepatron allows users to customize and update templates within our clinical documentation software as their circumstances and strategies evolve over time.

Ready to experience all these features within your practice and more? Choose Carepatron. Sign up for a free trial!

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Reference

Stanley, B., & Brown, G. K. (2012). Safety planning intervention: A brief intervention to mitigate suicide risk. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19(2), 256–264. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpra.2011.01.001

What is a patient Safety Plan?
What is a patient Safety Plan?

Commonly asked questions

What is a patient Safety Plan?

A patient Safety Plan is a comprehensive document that outlines strategies to ensure the safety and well-being of patients in various settings, including hospitals, home care, and long-term care facilities. It includes measures to prevent adverse events and promotes a safety culture through open communication, reporting, and analysis of near misses and adverse events.

How do you write a personal Safety Plan?

To write a personal Safety Plan, identify potential risks and hazards in your daily life, such as falls, medication errors, or infections. Then, develop strategies to mitigate these risks, such as using assistive devices, following medication schedules, and practicing good hygiene. Additionally, establish a system for reporting and addressing near misses and adverse events, and ensure that you have access to necessary resources and support.

What are the components of a Safety Plan?

A comprehensive Safety Plan typically includes several essential components: a risk assessment to identify potential hazards, strategies for mitigating those risks, a reporting and analysis system for near misses and adverse events, access to necessary resources and support, and regular monitoring and evaluation to ensure the plan's ongoing effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.

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