Implementing safety plans
Supporting someone with BPD involves not only providing empathy and understanding but also ensuring their safety during times of crisis. Safety plans are proactive strategies designed to identify triggers, warning signs, and coping mechanisms to help individuals with BPD manage crises effectively.
The Significance of Safety Plans:
Safety plans are crucial tools for supporting someone with BPD, as they provide a structured approach to managing crises and preventing self-harm or suicidal behaviour. By creating a safety plan, individuals with BPD and their support networks can identify warning signs, coping strategies, and resources to turn to during times of distress. Safety plans empower individuals to take proactive steps to safeguard their well-being and access support when needed.
Key Components of a Safety Plan:
- Personal Triggers and Warning Signs: Identify personal triggers and warning signs that may indicate the onset of a crisis, such as intense emotional distress, suicidal thoughts, or self-harming behaviours.
- Coping Strategies: Develop a list of coping strategies and activities that help manage distress and promote emotional regulation. This may include mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques, hobbies, or reaching out to trusted individuals for support.
- Social Support Network: Compile a list of trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals who can provide support and assistance during times of crisis. Include contact information and instructions on how to reach out for help.
- Professional Resources: Identify mental health resources, crisis hotlines, and emergency services that can offer immediate support and intervention during a crisis. Include contact information and instructions on how to access these resources.
- Safety Measures: Establish safety measures to remove immediate dangers and ensure the individual’s physical safety during a crisis. This may involve removing access to harmful objects or substances and creating a safe environment.
- Emergency Contacts: Compile a list of emergency contacts, including local hospitals, crisis hotlines, and mental health professionals, to contact in case of a crisis. Include their contact information and instructions on when and how to reach out for help.
Steps to Implement and Utilize a Safety Plan:
- Collaborative Development: Involve the individual with BPD in the development of their safety plan to ensure that it reflects their unique needs, preferences, and experiences. Collaboratively identify triggers, warning signs, and coping strategies that resonate with them.
- Regular Review and Revision: Regularly review and revise the safety plan to ensure that it remains relevant and effective. Update triggers, warning signs, and coping strategies based on changes in the individual’s circumstances or experiences.
- Accessible Documentation: Keep a copy of the safety plan in a readily accessible location, such as on the individual’s phone, in their wallet, or posted in their living space. Ensure that all relevant support networks are aware of the safety plan and know how to access it.
- Practice and Reinforcement: Encourage the individual to practice using their coping strategies and accessing their support network regularly, even during times of stability. Reinforce the importance of utilizing the safety plan as a proactive tool for managing distress and preventing crises.
- Emergency Response Training: Provide training and guidance to the individual’s support network on how to recognize signs of crisis and effectively intervene when needed. Ensure that everyone knows their role and responsibilities in implementing the safety plan during a crisis.
Safety plans are invaluable tools for supporting someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, providing a structured approach to managing crises and promoting well-being. By collaboratively developing a safety plan that addresses personal triggers, warning signs, coping strategies, and support networks, individuals with BPD can take proactive steps to safeguard their mental health and access support when needed.
Implementing and utilizing a safety plan requires collaboration, regular review, and reinforcement to ensure its effectiveness in promoting safety and resilience in times of crisis. With a well-developed safety plan in place, individuals with BPD can navigate challenges more effectively and emerge stronger on their journey towards wellness and recovery.