What is a Mental Health Crisis?
A mental health crisis is when someone is may be unable to care for themselves or function properly because of emotional distress or is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else. A mental health crisis can be a result of trauma, conflict, stress, loss, drugs, or more. This emotional crisis is often tied to a mental health disorder and typically requires professional mental health care. Signs of a mental health crisis may include:
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal actions
- Risky behaviors
- Extreme mood swings
It is hard to know what to do in a mental health crisis, but it is important to get the person emergency mental health help when they are experiencing a serious breakdown. Waiting to do anything could make the problem worse and lead to serious consequences.
What to Do in A Mental Health Crisis
You likely do not know what to say to someone having a mental breakdown or how to help someone in a mental crisis, but it is important to act. Especially if the episode is severe, you should seek the help of a professional who is trained in mental health crisis prevention and de-escalation. Because of the threat of self-harm, call 911 if the person is in immediate danger. While experiencing a crisis, it might feel too taxing for your friend to pick up the phone and dial for help themselves, so call a hotline or treatment center on your friend’s behalf. You can even offer to sit nearby while they start the conversation. Some helpful mental health hotlines and service numbers include:
- The Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 888-333-2377
- National Eating Disorder Association 1-800-931-2237
- Crisis Text Line: Text SUPPORT to 741-741
- Rape, Use and Incest National Network 1-800-656-4673
- Vertava Health 888-744-1737
How to Support a Friend in Crisis Long-Term
Reaching a healthy mental state can take a long time after experiencing a mental illness crisis, and setbacks are common. It is important to help a friend in crisis even after the initial episode is over. Some of the best ways how to help someone in crisis as they work toward healing include:
- Setting up regular calls and visits from you and others in their social circle
- Encouraging them to attend therapy, take medications, and complete self-care activities as directed
- Participating in self-care activities with them like exercising, clean eating, and mindfulness
- Offering to drive them to therapy appointments or set up devices for virtual mental health care
- Helping with childcare or other responsibilities to provide quiet time for self-care
- Taking them to do something they enjoy like a show, a sporting event, or out of town
As you provide support, remember to honor their journey and preferences. Everyone is different, so do not judge them or invalidate their feelings. Also, remember to keep your own mental health in mind and reach out for help if needed. You may not know how to help someone in crisis, but you do not need to go through this alone. At Vertava Health, treatment like our outpatient program helps people work through their mental health struggles and start healing. Contact us today to learn more about how we may be able to help a friend in need or you.