How to help someone in a mental health crisis: 8 tips

How to help someone in a mental health crisis: 8 tips

  • A mental health crisis can involve feelings of fatigue, extreme distress, and suicidal thoughts.
  • You can support a loved one in a crisis by asking them what they need and listening with empathy.
  • If they have thoughts of suicide, stay with them and help them call a crisis hotline, such as 988.

It’s normal to feel anxious or even afraid when someone you care about is going through a mental health crisis, but you can do a lot to help them.

A mental health crisis can occur in response to trauma or extreme stressors that make it difficult to navigate daily life. Experiencing this level of extreme distress may, in some cases, lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicidealthough not everyone in a crisis will have a plan to die.

An important first step toward providing compassionate support involves remembering that your loved one did not choose to experience this distress. In short, the mental health crisis is not their fault.

Another important step in figuring out when to provide support? Know the signs of the crisis.

according to Dr. Andrew Davis, psychiatrist in Kaiser Permanente In Maryland, some signs that may indicate a mental health crisis include:

  • Rapid changes in mood and increased irritability
  • self harming
  • Increased use of materials
  • Isolation or withdrawal from others
  • Psychosis, or loss of contact with reality, which may include hallucinations or delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Inability to perform daily tasks and do basic self-care, such as eating, bathing, and getting enough sleep

Below, find eight tips from mental health experts you can use to support your loved one in dealing with distress and finding care.

1. Help them connect with crisis support

If the one you love They express thoughts of harming themselves Or others, or you are really concerned about their health and well-being, you can start by helping them access a crisis counselor.

according to Taffy HonLicensed and Founding Clinical Social Worker recovery and elevationCrisis advisors are trained to:

  • listen tenderly
  • Speak through momentary strategies to relieve distress, such as calling a friend, walking, or listening to music
  • Provide information on local resources
  • Help your loved one practice grounding techniques, such as doing some gentle stretching or drawing attention to their breath

Crisis hotlines include:

Some cities and towns also have local mental health crisis response teams, which can send counselors to help de-escalate the situation, assess whether or not your loved one is safe at home, and link them to helpful resources.

You can check with your local mental health department or local police department to see if there is a response team in your area.

2. Provide distractions

Davis recommends helping your loved one find a distracting activity, which can create some mental distance from the source of their distress and help them stay grounded in the present.

Some ideas you can try include:

  • Making a movie that makes you feel happy
  • Draw, draw or work on another creative project
  • Going out for a relaxing meal or making one together
  • Walking outside together

The same distractions don’t work for everyone, and that’s why Dr.. Zeeshan KhanHe is a psychiatrist Mindpath HealthIt is recommended that you ask your loved one what might feel good at that moment. If they say they don’t know, it’s okay to offer some suggestions – or ask them if sitting down and talking would be more helpful.

3. Ask what they need

Instead of assuming you know how your loved one feels or what they need from you, just ask. For example, you might ask:

  • What can I do to make your life easier right now?
  • Is there anything I can take off your plate to make things less stressful?
  • I would like to spend time with you – is there a specific activity that would make you feel really good in the moment?

“Maybe they need someone to provide accountability for some of the steps they want to take to help themselves, like checking in after treatment appointments,” he says. Stephanie Jana licensed mental health counselor in a private practice.

“Or maybe they find it helpful to shop for groceries or cook together once a week to make their lives easier,” says Jean.

4. Check for suicidal thoughts

Bringing up the topic of suicide can be intimidating, but always make it a point to ask if your loved one has considered ending their life.

The idea that talking about suicide can increase the risk of a suicide attempt is a myth. In fact, Experts found Talking about suicide can reduce thoughts of suicide and improve mental health.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recommend saying something Like, “Sometimes when people are going through what you’re going through, and dealing with such intense emotional pain, they think about suicide. Have it ever crossed your mind?”

Asking this question lets them know that they can safely talk to you about their suicidal thoughts.

5. Listen and validate

Khan says that simply listening to your loved ones to share their experiences without judgment is an invaluable way to provide support.

You can try to start a conversation with, “I noticed it [XYZ behavior] Recently, and I just want to make sure you’re okay because I know you’ve been through a lot lately. How have you been feeling?”

Next, give them your full attention and make space for any uncomfortable feelings they are experiencing, he advises Anisha Patel dna licensed psychiatrist and chief medical officer of LifeStance Health.

While your gut reaction may be to try to solve the problem or cheer them up, Patel Dunn says this approach can end up inadvertently nullifying their feelings.

However, you can help normalize their experience Submit Verification Data Like “it makes sense that you’re going to feel overwhelmed” or “that sounds really stressful,” says Khan.

6. Help them find a therapist

If your loved one already has a therapist, you can encourage them to reach out during a crisis. If they don’t have a therapist, Khan advises offering to help them find a therapist.

To get started, you can search for local licensed mental health professionals using online databases such as:

SAMHSA offers 24/7 confidential support and guidance with treatment referrals.

You can also help by contacting potential therapists to see if they are accepting new patients and accepting your loved one’s insurance, or by making appointments for them. Davis also suggests saving a trip to their appointment or offering to help with childcare, if that’s an obstacle.

If a loved one can’t access treatment for any reason, you can also help them find it Peer-led crisis programs. For example, NAMI works by default 8-week recovery programs Beside virtual contact groups – Both are completely free to participate in.

The recovery program covers a range of discussions and activities, such as building a support network and crisis plan, while virtual communication groups involve sharing experiences in a supportive environment and learning new coping skills.

7. Stay connected

It’s critical to stay in touch with loved ones who are going through a mental health crisis — not only so you can watch for any signs that they’re contemplating suicide or self-harm, but also to remind them that you care. Even just a quick phone call or text to say, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you today, how are you feeling?” It can go a long way.

“Many people will not seek help, either because they are worried about potential judgment, feel ashamed or embarrassed, or because they are afraid of being ignored and rejected. They need reassurance that they are not alone, and an expression of concern and empathy that they deserve to be loved,” Khan says.

You can also build a support system for your loved one by encouraging other friends and family to check in – especially on the days when you know you won’t get a chance.

8. Know when to get emergency medical help

When your lover tests suicidal thoughtsIt might be your instinct Take them to the emergency room – But police officers and emergency room staff are not always Learn how to deal with mental health crises.

Hawn says engaging the police during a mental health crisis can be painful or even painful Fatal in some casesAnd the Especially for blacks and aborigines.

In most cases, Davis recommends skipping the emergency and calling instead your local mobile crisis intervention unit, your loved one’s therapist, or a crisis hotline.

However, you may need to seek immediate care in the emergency room if your loved one experiences:

If you call 911, Khan recommends that you immediately notify the operator that you are calling about a psychological emergency and ask for a crisis intervention officer. You can also contact your local crisis resources to request a mediator who can be present at the meeting with the police.

Informed takeaway

When someone you care about experiences deep and overwhelming pain, you may feel lost, afraid, and unsure of how to help.

Remember, however, that they did not choose to feel this way, and you can do a number of things to support them as they navigate this difficult time. For example, listening to their concerns with empathy and without judgment may provide some much-needed relief.

“The acceptance and support of loved ones is of great value in helping someone recover from these crises,” says Jan.

While some people may need extra help finding a therapist and making it easier to manage daily responsibilities, others may need some quality time with you or some distractions.

When you doubt what your loved one needs from you, just ask.


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