United Front: System Safety Plan Course

Course Content

Total learning: 16 lessons

Course Materials: Getting Set Up

Suggested Materials List

  • United Front Ship’s Log planner (entirely optional)
  • blank or lined paper for brainstorming and creating list
  • pencils, pens, crayons or markers for brainstorming on big paper, erasers, etc.  Maybe all of the above.
  • scrap paper


Please don’t judge yourselves as y’all do the exercises. If y’all have to bail as y’all get to the trigger questions, self-harm and crisis questions, it’s totally understandable. Y’all may need to work on some of these exercises with your support team, close friends, or in a supportive group environment.  It may help to have folk to talk to or help y’all stay grounded if y’all find some of the exercises difficult or destabilizing. This is one of the reasons why y’all should work on these exercises when y’all are doing fairly well.

Keep these lists in a safe place. Your& answers should always be private unless y’all choose to share them.  You may not want to answer these questions on paper or in a journal or planner — if so, do them in a password-protected application on your phone or in a document in an anonymous online account only y’all know about, etc.  Your safety is the priority, here. And as great as it may be to have all the answers in one place and easily accessible, there may be information in these plans that could be used to manipulate and harm your& system. Keep your answers safe from prying if needed.

If you wish to create a crisis plan later, you’ll either type up relevant sections or portions of your work, or make a neat copy that can be scanned to give to potential crisis caregivers.

System Safety Plan Notes & Credits

Our information is based on the U.S. DHHS, SAMHSA, & CMHS publication SMA-3720 Action Planning for Prevention and Recovery (“APPR”)— a pamphlet (linked above) that is available for free and the information is in the public domain (uncopyrighted) for use without limitation. The link for this document is included above.

If y’all are referring to the government pamphlet instructions, their sections (bold) apply to the following sections in the United Front materials (italicized), and notes on the use of a couple sections with the United Front Ships Log Planner:

Key: APPR (Action Planning for Prevention & Recovery) | United Front course materials (planner notes)

Developing a Wellness Toolkit | Crew Equipment Review (this is done on scrap paper with the planner, and some of the items are used for several exercises. What’s left when you’re done can be reserved or listed on Staying in “Ship Shape” in the left column.)

Daily Maintenance Plan: Feeling Well | Safe Water Mark

Daily Maintenance Plan: Dreams & Goals | Staying in Ship Shape — Annual Planning

Daily Maintenance Plan: Daily List | Staying in Ship Shape — Daily Planning

Daily Maintenance Plan: Reminder List | Checking for Barnacles (with the planner, these reminders are distributed through various sections of the planner or put on sticky notes to be mobile through the planner as the year goes on)

Triggers | Foul Waters

Early Warning Signs | Navigating Dangers

When Things Are Breaking Down or Getting Worse | Batten the Hatches



Resources we used or may have used in the creating of this course include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • the US government public domain safety plan document linked above (by the same person who created the trademarked plan at the Copeland institute that shall remain unnamed).
  • the New York State peer specialist certification training in creating safety plans from the Academy of Peer Services.
  • the MHEP (Mental Health Empowerment Project) live training we took that covered same
  • our experience putting our safety plan together (which we are expected to use as a peer specialist while working with our peers to help inspire them on their own safety plans, and is an “eat your own dogfood” concept that we like).
  • Our experiences with our own plurality and countless plurals (thousands of bodies) we have worked with on selves help and community support since 1986.
  • our own selves-help work since about 1991, including our fairly decent personal library of self-help, selves-help, self-improvement, psychology, philosophy, and other related books and materials.
  • our life coach training (we are a life coach in addition to getting our provisional peer support specialist certification), ministerial training (we are an interfaith minister since 1997) and all our experiences coaching plurals in small group and 1:1 settings as well as presenting, writing, etc. specifically for the plural community.
  • a near-miss on a psychology degree — we dropped out but have continued to study psychology outside the academic setting, because like many plurals basically our lives are at stake and there’s too much therapy abuse and incompetence, and they (as an industry, not individuals) don’t know their ass from their elbow. So we (all plurals, I’m afraid) need to be armed with knowledge.
  • 10 years (2010-2020) of being on a nonprofit board of a peer-run cross-disability non profit including (continuing past board membership) statewide advocacy…fighting for access, inclusion, better outcomes, funding, rights, etc.