When you visit a physician with a serious health condition, you typically first have a conversation about what symptoms you’re experiencing before the doctor examines you. Then, based on their findings, the physician will propose a treatment plan you have to agree to before being prescribed medication, undergoing surgery or receiving physical therapy.
This example doesn’t quite capture the intricacies of treating behavioral health issues, but a few points are worthy of consideration. First and foremost is the importance of a client communicating a problem that an attending professional is qualified to help with. Then, of course, there’s the signing of a form that gives permission to that professional to begin work on treating the issue.
But what’s probably most important for all involved in a behavioral health setting is that the signed agreement represents a carefully evaluated mental health treatment plan — with measurable treatment outcomes — so that both the patient and the counselor agree with the strategy and schedule.
Mental Health Treatment Plans
It’s essential for mental health professionals to create effective treatment plans for patients. In general, a mental health treatment plan contains the following information:
- Patient Data: Including the patient’s name, date of birth, address, social security number, insurance plan and the date the plan was created
- Summary of the Diagnosis: Including any symptoms and how long the patient has been suffering from the condition or conditions
- Issues and Objectives: Including a clear description of the various problems the patient faces, realistic treatment goals and a feasible timeframe that the goals can be completed in
- Patient and Counselor Signatures: To signify the plan was developed with the participation and agreement of the patient
Mental health treatment plans are important because they provide a framework for treating the patient and a pathway toward either better managing their condition or recovering from it. They allow the treating mental health care professionals — for example, a psychiatrist and a psychologist or social worker — to see at a glance what medication the patient is taking, what issues they’re facing, what skills they need to learn and what goals they want to achieve.
Making Progress With Mental Health Treatment Plans
One of the key aspects of making a mental health treatment plan effective is to use SMART goals — or goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound. For example, if a patient suffers from substance abuse, a SMART goal could be to remain sober for a month.
To help the patient achieve this goal, the treating mental health professionals may need to provide medication and help the patient learn coping skills that allow them to handle issues without alcohol or drugs.
In addition to the treatment plan, the treating mental health providers should keep progress notes that list how the patient is responding to the treatment. These progress notes should describe any changes to the patient’s condition, summaries of their response to the treatment and, when the plan is completed, the outcomes of the treatment.
Create Effective Treatment Plans for Patients With ICANotes
As always when handling patient information, it’s critical to keep all data organized and secure. ICANotes provides a time-saving, easy-to-use platform that allows you to create effective treatment plans and update them as needed.
Clinical Director October has been a Registered Nurse for over 15 years. She is board certified in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also graduated with bachelor and master degrees in Nursing from Western Governors University.