Nancy Pizzo Bucher has successfully married her professional and personal lives to increase the resources available to family members with loved ones with serious mental illnesses. These individuals can thrive in the community when their families are educated, prepared to meet crises, reduce harm, and maintain safety in the home and the community. “Defusing the mental illness crisis triangle” is a long overdue and essential resource for families loving individuals with serious mental illnesses.
The triangle consists of three parts: leg one: the individual with serious mental illness experiencing an illness episode; leg two: access to items that could be used to inflict injury; and, leg three: family members present in the home for the loved one in crisis to discharge his or her intolerable distress onto. Family members have some control over the second and third legs of the triangle so they have the keys to defusing the combustibility of the crisis and reducing harm. These keys are the crux of the safety plans. Following the clearly laid out processes explained in the pamphlet puts families in the position to create safety plans and take pre-emptive actions that when a crisis occurs, it can be effectively managed.
Families are guided to master Compassion, Parental Guidance, Reassurance, Request (CPRR). CPRR is a set of skills that can be learned and practiced. They include expressing sadness that your loved one is hurting; naming the objective indicators of what parents are seeing and recommending “cool down” strategies; reassurance that the loved one can calm down; and, then requesting that the parents are called back home when it is safe. The pamphlet includes answers to questions that family members may ask when looking at implementing safety strategies. These are very useful as Ms. Boucher has also included a worksheet to fill out to guide the process. When all else fails and outside help needs to be called in, otherwise known as Plan B, the pamphlet offers an effective guide on how to reduce the trauma and make the call better for all concerned.
Ms. Boucher points out throughout this pamphlet, safety procedures must be “routine” in order to be effective.
AS the founder of a non-profit organization, Grow a Strong Family, Inc., that provides support to families uprooted by mental illness, this resource is an invaluable addition for the families that we are privileged to support. We already integrate “Replanting lives uprooted by mental illness,” by Nancy Pizzo Bucher, in our work because practical resources are what families need!