Mental Illness and Mental Health Care Plans

Mental illness is a general term for a group of illnesses. A mental illness can be mild or severe, temporary or prolonged. Most mental illnesses can be treated.

Mental illness can come and go throughout a person’s life. Some people experience their illness only once and fully recover. For others, it is prolonged and recurs over time. Mental illness can make it difficult for someone to cope with work, relationships and other aspects of their life.
Mental health care plans are for people with a mental illness who have several healthcare professionals working with them. A care plan explains the support provided by each of those professionals and when treatment should be provided. Your care plan might also include what to do in a crisis or to prevent relapse.

Your doctor will use a care plan to help you work out what services you need, set goals and decide on the best treatment options for you. At other times, your doctor may contribute to a care plan that someone else has organised – for example, when you are returning home from spending time in hospital.

Your doctor will work with you to decide:
What your mental health needs are
What help you require – your medical, physical, psychological and social needs are all considered
What result you would like
What treatment would be best for you.

Once you and your doctor have agreed on your goals and what support you need to achieve them, your doctor will write out a mental health care plan. They will then discuss this with the other members of your healthcare team. Preparing the plan might take one visit or it might take a number of visits.

Your doctor will offer you a copy of the plan and will also keep a copy on your medical record. If you give permission, a copy can also be given to other people, such as psychologists or your carer. You should tell your doctor if there is any information you don’t want other people in your healthcare team to know.