There are times when a person can’t calm down, are uncontrollable or may be in sudden danger of hurting themselves or others. A crisis situation exists any time that a person is no longer safe to himself or others or when there is a need for immediate action or intervention. It is usually a time when all of your energies are being demanded in order to care of that person.
Some signs that a person may be experiencing a mental health crisis include:
- Rapid mood swings
- Extreme energy or lack of it, sleeping all the time, or being unable to sleep
- Severe agitation, pacing,
- Talking very rapidly or non-stop
- Confused thinking or irrational thoughts
- Thinking everyone is out to get them or seeming to lose touch with reality
- If they are experiencing hallucinations or delusions
- Making threats to others or themselves
- Isolating themselves from friends and family, not coming out of their room
- Not eating or eating all the time, rapid weight loss or gain
- Suicidal thoughts and statements such as “I want to die” or even possible vague statements such as “I don’t want to be here anymore”
This list above contains many but not all the possible signs that a person may be experiencing a crisis. It is best to follow your instincts. Remember you are the expert when it comes to your family. If you feel your family member is behaving much differently than normal or if the situation seems like it is getting out of control and you fear you may not be able to de-escalate it – then your family is most likely experiencing a crisis.
Once you decide that indeed your family may be having a crisis or mental health emergency you’ll want to consider the following questions:
- Do you feel your family is in immediate danger to themselves or others?
- Can you handle the situation yourself or do you need help?
- If you need help- what type of help do you need and from who?
If the answer to question 1 is yes and your family’s life is at risk or someone else’s life is in danger you need to get help right away! If you feel your family member is in imminent danger call help but keep in mind that once police enter your home they are in charge of the situation and control what happens next including where your family may be taken. You could also call emergency crisis services at your local Community Mental Health Provider for your county.
When you call help or crisis services be sure to let them know that your family is having a mental health emergency as that may trigger them to send someone who is trained in supporting experiencing a mental health crisis. You may also want to ask if they have a crisis team as they will be trained to intervene in similar situations.
Try to give the person you talk to as many details as you can about what specifically is happening and any other background information you feel may be important.
What Causes a Mental Health Crisis?
There are some events/situations that could trigger a mental health crisis in any person including a breakup, death of a loved one, natural or large scale disaster, physical, sexual or verbal abuse, loss of home, failing grades in school, ill family member or caregiver, divorce, loss of a friend, loved one or hero to suicide, or being a witness to a violent act/accident, physical assault or violence.
It is important to keep in mind that a person with mental health disorders sometimes have more difficulty than others dealing with stressors and that their mental health condition itself may lead to a crisis situation for no apparent reason. In addition changes in medication or other factors may make a mental health crisis more likely. Sometimes even when we have all the right supports services and treatment in place mental health crises can still occur.
It is important to keep in mind that even if you do everything right and follow all the steps you know how to do to the best of your ability – situations can still get out of hand and may be more than you can handle. It doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong just that you may need some additional help to help that person. Asking for help and knowing where to get it and how is sometimes the hardest part.
Crisis situations can be stressful, frightening and exhausting for you and other family members too. It is important to make sure you are taking care of yourself and getting the support you all need as well!