What's in Your Emergency Mental Health Grab Bag

What’s in Your Emergency Mental Health Grab Bag

A crisis hits and the scaffolding around your life seems to shake, but you have a Mental Health Grab Bag, and so you know you can get through this.


An emergency hits, or maybe it’s just seeing certain family members. Something gets added to your stress load, and the brain spirals down and out of control.

There might also be times you have to go to a hospital for various medical needs. Maybe you need some respite time.

What would you take? How would prepare for the potential emergency?

I would suggest you need an Emergency Mental Health Grab Bag.

We are all supposed to have a grab bag prepared for the unpredictable events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and other extreme events, but what would you put into your bag?

Mental Health Grab Bag items

Many of the items in my grab bag are what I would call ‘grounding items’.

They help me ground the self into the here and now. Items that are practical, tangible and tactile. They help centre me.

This is my list and you will see that many of the items have links to other articles I have written.

  1. S.T.A.N. plan
    This is a plan you have prepared beforehand in case of emergency.
    A S.T.A.N. plan is Simple to understand by all, Timed for review not achievement, Aimed at something of deep importance, and Negotiated with significant others.
  2. Bible verses, Quotes, Affirmations
    Have those little verses and sentences easily accessible so that you can say them to yourself. Preferably have them written out on paper. Something tangible and tactile helps the brain to ground itself.
  3. Ladder out of your dark hole. 
    The ladder is a small eBook to help you out of our hole. Get a copy here.
  4. Thinking Compass. 
    A thinking compass is something that will help you keep pointing due North. It’s a little tool with lots of verses, quotes, affirmations. Learn more about it here.
  5. Early Warning Signs
    Do you know what your Early Warning Signs are of you becoming unwell are? When we know what those are and other people who are supporters of ours know them too, then early intervention can ward off a relapse.
  6. Medication
    If you take medication, then make sure you have some in your grab bag.
  7. Photos
    I love photos, especially of previous times when something good was happening. Read Photos can help your Mental Health.
  8. Nest contact details
    All of us are in a nest of relationships. Friends, family, ‘professionals’ such as doctors, nurses, pastors, counsellors. Have their contact details so you can connect with them. You may want to pre-arrange with them permission to call in case of an emergency.
  9. Music
    What sort of music helps you to ground yourself? Do you have a playlist of your favorite artists, songs, albums?
  10. Journal
    A journal is a great place to write out the confusion and stress of the moment into something tangible. As Dawson Trotman says, ‘Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through your fingertips.
    Also, it’s a place where you look back to previous times where you might have been through similar situations and see what you did back then that helped.
  11. A Cup
    A cup reminds me to consider the Cup fillers and Cup drainers. It’s a simple little grounding exercise.
  12. Pool Room Encouragements. 
    I have a place where I keep all my encouragements. It’s called the ‘Pool Room’. For me, it’s a pin board where I have pinned encouraging emails people have sent me, pictures of my family, cards etc. Again, it’s something tangible and tactile to connect my mind to.
  13. Exercise gear
    This item relates to the need to keep on exercising. So it could be your walking shoes, some dumbbells, etc.
  14. Favourite foods
    Is it a nice healthy apple or that favourite chocolate bar. Comfort foods are ok, but don’t take comfort for too long in them 😉.
  15. Cuddly Toy
    It could be that teddy bear from long ago or maybe a more recent addition to the beds community. Some therapists give their clients something tangible, tactile and cuddly for them to hold within the session and between sessions.

Many more items could be added to the grab bag.

What would you add?

Perhaps this is something you help someone else create.

The most important thing to do is to make a grab bag ahead of time.


Quotes to consider

  • A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don’t know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox’s or bear’s, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there. Meister Eckhart
  • The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others. Erik Erikson
  • Know yourself to improve yourself. Auguste Comte
  • Know yourself. Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful. Ann Landers

Questions to answer

  1. What would you put in your grab bag?
  2. What crisis’, emergencies, surprises have shaken your world in the past? What did you do to cope with them?
  3. What could be the result if you didn’t have a prepared ‘grab bag’ for those crisis times?

Formation Exercise

  • Create a grab bag. Get a physical bag and prayerfully gather the items for the potential future need. Email me and tell me about it.

Further reading

6 Things That I Have Noticed About People Who Change and Recover From Mental Illness

8 Steps To Discovering Wellness Through Knowing Your Early Warning Signs

Too much Traffic in your Mind? Try Journaling

Barry Pearman

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash


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