You are not alone.
You deserve help and support.
Your mental health crisis is NOT your fault.
Introduction to Mental Health Crisis
A mental health crisis occurs when a person is in danger of hurting themselves or others and / or prevents them from being able to care for themselves.
What can lead to a mental health crisis?
- Relationships changing / ending
- Conflicts with loved ones
- Grief / loss
- High levels of stress
- Feeling lonely
- New / changes in medication
A mental health crisis / emergency is a real crisis. Thus, we need to address a mental health crisis with the same urgency and importance as any other health emergency. However, unfortunately, due to the lack of conversation and awareness, many people do not know that support is available. Therefore, most people do not know what to expect during or after a mental health crisis.
Warning Signs of a Mental Health Crisis
Below I have included a list of common warning signs of a mental health crisis.
- Simple daily tasks become difficult (brushing teeth, changing clothing)
- Increased or decreased energy levels
- Mood swings
- Feeling depressed or withdrawn
- Isolating yourself from loved ones or life in general
- Feeling easily irritated
- Out-of-control behavior
- Engaging in violent or destructive behavior
- Engaging in abusive behavior toward others
- Psychosis (lose touch with reality, example: hearing voices and seeing things that are not there)
- Substance Abuse
Warning signs may not always be present nor easily identifiable. It is okay if you miss the warning signs. It is okay if you experience a mental health crisis while you are in therapy or seeking treatment. You still are valid in your mental health crisis, and you still deserve support. It does not mean you have “failed.”
Am I at risk for suicide?
Mental health crises may result in suicidal thoughts, especially if the individual is experiencing feelings of depression, worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt, and / or loneliness. Although our society does not always take thoughts of suicide seriously, it is important to take it seriously. When facing a mental health crisis, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and suicide attempts often occur.
Feeling suicidal or experiencing suicidal thoughts is often more complex than “I want to end my life.” Below I have included a list of common warning signs for suicide.
- Constantly thinking about dying
- Feeling hopeless
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Increased substance abuse
- Saying goodbye
- Giving away personal possessions
- Making / updating a will
- Purchasing a means (Example: firearms, pills)
Please note, if someone has a history of suicide attempts or has lost someone to suicide, their risk for suicide may be heightened.
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or may be experiencing a mental health crisis, here are a few free resources available to you.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: 741-741
- Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
- In immediate danger? call 911
What to Do for Your Mental Health Crisis
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, it may be difficult to assess the situation or express what you are feeling to others. Although it is normal to feel unprepared and confused, it is important to know what options are available to you. The first question I recommend asking yourself is “Am I in danger of hurting myself or others?” From there, you can decide on next steps. If you feel that you are in danger of harming yourself or others, call 911 for immediate assistance. However, if you do not feel that you are in danger of harming yourself or others, you may reach out to a crisis hotline (such as the numbers listed above), a mental health professional, or family physician. A professional can help you assess the situation to see if you should schedule an appointment with a professional or be admitted to a hospital.
Many people facing a mental health crisis often feel uncomfortable calling 911. 911 can help you, especially when you feel like you are in immediate danger. It is important to explain the crisis with as much detail as possible when you call 911, so the responder has an idea what to expect. You can also request someone trained to work with mental health condition, such as a Crisis Intervention Training Officer (CIT). CITs are trained to help deescalate situation through specific training and access to helpful resources.
What to Do for Your Loved One’s Mental Health Crisis
Similarly, to the section above, assessing the situation first is imperative. It may be difficult and confusing to assess the situation, especially when the individual cannot easily express what they are experiencing. However, the best place to start is identifying if the individual facing a mental health crisis is in danger of harming themselves or others. If they are in danger, you may follow the same 911 protocol listed above.
If they are not in immediate danger, there are a few ways you can provide support.
- Help your loved one reach out to a professional
- Offer crisis hotline resources
- Provide support and encouragement to your loved ones
- Ask your loved one how you can help them
- Do not take control, but rather offer suggestions
- Give your loved on space
Sometimes when we offer support to others, we drain ourselves. You are important too. Take care of yourself. Do not be afraid to reach out to a professional or crisis hotline for your own mental health. This does not take away from your loved one, but it allows you to provide the support they need without emptying your own cup.
Because of the stigma on mental health, lack of education and awareness, and high costs of treatment, many people who experience a mental health crisis do not reach out for support. Please know that you deserve support, and you deserve help. There are many options and resources available to you. And there are many nonprofit organizations offering free services, free crisis support, and grants to help cover treatment costs. You are not alone. You do not have to go through this alone.