Don’t Develop Your Crisis Plan in the Middle of a Crisis

mental health Jun 11, 2018

We’ve lost another great one. This week was Anthony Bourdain. Proceeded by Kate Spade, Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe, and many others. Why does it take a traumatic event to spark action? It’s then that we speak out about mental health. That’s when we take action on the bigger issues that have been there all along.

Why don’t we have that passion or desire to change or to develop a plan before disaster strikes? Think of some of the bigger events that have happened in history. 9/11 or New Orleans flooding after hurricane Katrina. When those disasters struck – they were the biggest events that had ever happened in those areas. That was not the first time those first responders had to deal with crisis situations. It was not the first time that doctors in the hospital had to treat acute injuries. It was not the first time that 9-1-1 operators were overwhelmed with calls coming in. Those individual jobs had been performed previously. They had the tools and skills to handle a larger crisis. There were lots of learnings and areas of improvement identified by the large-scale disasters. They did, however, enter the disaster with some of the skills and tools to be able to deal with the crisis.

Let’s relate this to chronic disease and family medicine. Clients come in because they are trying to lose weight. Not because they want to prevent complications. Because they are going to a wedding and want to look good. Because their knees are hurting so much because of the weight that they are carrying. Or because their doctor told them that they have high blood pressure, cholesterol or were diagnosed with diabetes.

It’s when those things happen that a light switch goes off in your head that makes you shift perspective. It creates a sense of urgency and makes you think that “now” is the right time to make changes. That’s when you’re most motivated to make changes. You’ve got a fire lit under your bottom that motivates you to make some changes.

Think of the crisis-management plan. You need to have it in place ahead of time to make it useable. Imagine that you’ve never exercised in your life. Or you’ve never focused on your nutrition or never made sleep a priority. When it comes time to dealing with a health crisis, how do you expect to have the skills, tools, and ability to handle it? You need to practice those skills before you need them.

How do we shift the focus so that people are more motivated to learn those skills and tools along the way, so that:

A) It doesn’t hit the crisis situation in the first place or

B) So that if and or when a crisis does arise, that you have more tools or skills to rely on to help you with the situation at hand?

I don’t have an immediate answer but I suspect that it starts at a much earlier age. We can start by teaching our children or young adults that it’s important to master those skills. By the time they become adults, it will be much easier to execute those skills. It will be more ingrained in us that we need to take care of our bodies. We will understand that it is our personal responsibility to take care of ourselves.

Just like it’s our personal responsibility to take care of our finances. And to maintain our house and yard. It’s no one else’s responsibility to take care of those things. We can hire people to help us with those tasks, but it’s our responsibility to make sure that they get done. Yet, we feel that it’s other people’s responsibility to manage our health and to make sure that we don’t get diabetes. We blame our doctors or physiotherapist or dieticians when something goes wrong and they can’t fix it in one session.

It’s not our health care system that’s failing us. It’s us that are failing our health care system. There’s a lot of things that we can improve in our health care system. The easiest way to fix the system is to take responsibility and accountability for your own actions. The things that you do will positively or negatively impact your health in the long run.

What choices will you make?

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