Taking something to someone who’s on a short stay (or even long term) mental health floor is strictly limited for obvious safety reasons. But there are options. It takes some effort, especially when you’re undoubtedly stretched and warn thin yourself. Here’s are a few simple ideas of encouragement and reassurance. It needs to be noted not ALL floors allow the same things, but we our list passed muster everywhere we sought counsel at. AND, it is ALWAYS standard protocol for any and everything brought on to the floor is looked at by staff before being allowed to be shared. So expect this.
We encourage you to check out our section on:
PLAYING TOGETHER WHILE BEING APART for additional games that are typically welcome on most mental health floors and facilities.
- Paper airplanes that you’ve already made, along with sheets of paper and instructions for folding airplanes. Bring some fun in with you. The Best Paper Airplanes; In Ten Folds by Eric Z is a simple, but satisfying book of how to fold paper airplanes if you want to pick up some examples. Or Michael LaFosse has authored a great book called, Origami Airplanes, which comes with planes pre-decorated and designed for patrons to fold as instructed. We like this one because it also has a DVD included which allows the hospital staff to share it as a pick me up for others on the floor, if the giver and recipient allow.
- Origami books where paper and folding instructions are included in the book itself. We like :Ultimate Origami for Beginners Kitby Michael G. LaFosse and Richard L. Alexander. AND, there’s a book called Beautiful Origami Flowers, by Anca Oprea, where the users can create a whole bouquet of flowers to place in their room that don’t require a vase or water. Those flowers are welcome gifts all on their own for those who want to fold some and bring them in as a gift.
- Speaking of flowers… Flowers in a plastic or Papier-Mache florist vase, are welcome on floors as a whole. NO glass or pottery type vases are allowed. But flowers tend to be a real picker upper. Staff say it’s one of the favorite and most welcomed things family can bring.
- Ever heard the saying, “An oldie but a goodie,”? Pre-folded and filled out paper fortune tellers, you know the silly little game a lot of us played in elementary and middle school. Fill every section with encouraging words. The words will boost their spirits, PLUS, they work as a fidget. Here’s a short how to fold one YouTube clip; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Tk4fB7OhKc&frags=pl%2Cwn
- Post It Notes where you’ve written about things that speak of your plans with them in the future, both short and long term. Use the larger Post Its so they can be seen easily.
- Photo copies of cartoons and memes that are humor based. You can make a collage on line for free using picmonkey.com
- Picture find games like Where’s Waldo. Several free ones are available on line.
- Word finds made on site that have words of encouragement and love pertaining to them. mywordsearch.com
- Create a short list of specific ways they can HELP you in concrete ways that confirms their presence has meaning in your world. Do they bake or cook something you enjoy? Ask for it. Offer to provide the ingredients and kitchen. Are they able to give advice to you on some specific subject? Examples: Car repair, web sites, life hacks, gaming strategies, gardening etc. Can they cut coupons for you? Research recipes or menu plan for both of you? Read a book you haven’t been able to get to and tell you all about it?....
- Bring in some photo copies of articles that you know interest them. You can also bring in magazines and news papers. Books as well. Just nothing spiral bound or with things such as locks, or attachments on the covers that could be removed.
- With a pad paper, and whatever level of writing utensil they allow on that floor, sit with your loved one and make a bodacious and outrageous, bucket list for both of you, just for kicks and jollies. No writing implements allowed? Just toss ideas back & forth orally and do some day dreaming together. Still passes some time in a positive way.
- Pick up a card to encourage and reassure them, and inside, add a list where everything on it pertains to the day they were born. i.e.: Movies in theaters that day, the top 10 songs, celebrities making headlines, FAD items like candy/clothing/slang words, what comic book or cartoon character was popular, magazines or newspaper front page headlines, world events, best sellers on the book list or top selling children’s story book, you get the idea. Remind them as far as you’re concerned it was a VERY good day in history.
- Do they have a pet waiting for them on the outs? Write a note from that pet that is upbeat, humorous and thoughtful. Include a recipe their pet would like them to make once they’re home. Use the “pet shaming photo image” concept and take pictures of their pet talking to them using this same idea, only without the shaming part. NO PET? How about a plant? Favorite coffee mug? Their fave blanket or pillow? Anything around the house you can pretend to voice something about the person you’re visiting that’s light-hearted…
- Create a photo copied spread sheet that documents a pair of their empty shoes out on adventures without them. If you’re willing, write a short story from those shoe’s perspective talking about something they enjoyed where ever they went. You’ll obviously need to grab some pictures.
- Do they have a cell phone they’ll be returning to? Load it with a few short messages for when they get out, whether by voicemail or text. Sing to them, even if you don’t have a great singing voice. Tell or leave a joke. Read an outlandish article from the tabloids. Or just text them wild tabloid titles and say this is what’s been happening in the world out there! (Note* Some hospitals allow patients to keep their personal cell phones on them. This idea still works wonders in lifting spirits. If you prefer to, tell them you’re going to send some fun their way, and that if they see a text saying NOW, that that’s your signal to let it go to voicemail. THEN, leave them one of these messages… That way they can listen over an over when they most need/want to.)
- Slippers: Can you bring in their familiar, worn at home pair? Or maybe deliver a brand new soft cushy pair? New clean socks also are welcome, and they make some fun ones now, where perhaps you can find ones with a theme they’d enjoy.
- Pajama pants/shorts (Draw stings will be removed.) But it’s nice to have those rather than having to wear both tops and bottoms from the floor. Tops as a standard are worn to designate those staying on the floor. But bringing pajama pants in is allowed, if not encouraged, as it’s a nice pick me up.
- FAMILIAR toiletry items are typically allowed to be brought in. Nothing with alcohol, so consider that when thinking about mouth washes. But most of us find comfort in scents and flavors we’re accustomed to, like tooth pastes, body soaps, shampoos, stick verse roll on deodorants, even toilet paper that’s maybe a certain weight. Every small acts of kindnesses or courtesies will soften their time.