A support plan is a list that sets out how someone would like to be supported and what they can do to help themselves in a particular situation. It can encourage them to tell you what might help. It's also a useful way of keeping important information and contacts together in one place.
Understanding support plans
Making a support plan is a way of working out what might be helpful and recording those ideas in one place, which some people find useful. It's not a legal agreement and it doesn't mean you have to help.
As well as asking someone what they might find helpful, it's also important to think about what help you feel able to give. If someone wants help you don't feel you can offer, it's okay not to agree and to find other options.
You could encourage them to explore other ways of finding support. Our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem and helping yourself with suicidal feelings have some suggestions.
You could encourage the person you are concerned about to make a support plan like the one below. The support plan is for them to fill in, although you might help them do this.
It can be helpful to:
- talk together about what to include
- ask them what has or hasn't helped before
- write or print more than one copy
- keep it somewhere easy to find
- save important numbers in your phones
The thing I find most helpful, is just knowing someone is there. Sometimes just listening to someone drivel on about mundane things. Sometimes talking about how I feel – just simply saying to someone I feel suicidal.
This is for someone who feels suicidal to fill in, so the questions are written from their perspective.
What can I do to take care of myself?
This could include things like 'write down how I feel', 'cuddle a pet' or 'do some exercise like walking or swimming'.
How would I like to be supported?
This could include a list of names and numbers of friends, family or professionals you can contact when you need support and details of how you would like to be supported, like 'ask me how I'm feeling' or 'come to appointments with me'. It's also a good idea to list the details of helplines or peer support groups, which might include online support like Elefriends.
Who can be contacted in an emergency?
It's best to agree on what to do in an emergency, with names and numbers for crisis services. This could include things like 'call 999 for an ambulance', 'contact my Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) on...' or 'call 116 123 for Samaritans'.
See our information on self-help for suicidal feelings and making a safety plan for more ideas of what to include.
This information was published in January 2017. We will revise it in 2020.