A mental health crisis happens when a person is experiencing serious mental health issues and is unable to cope with their symptoms or get the help they need. Symptoms can include things like extreme feelings of anxiety or depression, difficulty sleeping or getting motivated, or seeing and hearing things that aren’t there.
A mental health crisis can be a very difficult and frightening time for the person going through it. And their family and friends are often affected as well. For this reason, it’s crucial to know how to respond if your loved one is undergoing a mental health crisis to help them get better.
Your friend or family member may behave in strange or unusual ways. They might even attempt to hurt themselves or someone else if not treated. This can be disheartening, but remember that your loved one is not at fault. Mental health issues can affect anyone, and your loved one may be unable to cope with whatever is going on in their life at the moment.
Mental illness is a serious problem, but one that is often met with stigma and shame. This negative perception can prevent people from reaching out and seeking help for their mental health issues. But fortunately, many people do reach out for help. And when they do, it’s important to know how to respond. Here are six ways to help a loved one going through a mental health crisis:
Editorial note: Information in this article is meant to be educational in nature, and not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or someone you know has a mental illness, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help. The National Institute of Mental Health has a variety of resources available for a series of situations, which you can find here.
When a loved one is struggling with their mental health, it can be difficult to know the best way to support them. But one of the most important things that you can do is listen to them. Lending an ear to someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis is an effective way to show that you care and empathize with them.
Here are three ways to effectively listen when someone is speaking about their struggles:
1. Acknowledge that they are going through a difficult time. It can be challenging for people to open up about their struggles, so it’s important to let them know that you hear them.
2. Be empathetic. People who are struggling with their mental health may feel ashamed or embarrassed. Having compassion and understanding will help them to open up rather than shut down.
3. Be patient. It may take time for the person to talk through their feelings and experiences, so be willing to listen without judgment or interruption.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when trying to help someone going through a mental health crisis is that you should never give them medical advice. It may be tempting to try and offer someone tips on what they can do to help themselves feel better. But offering medical advice can actually do more harm than good.
Remember that mental health crises are often caused by a complex mix of biological, psychological, and social factors. And fortunately, licensed professionals have the knowledge and experience to properly diagnose and treat these factors.
Instead, try to focus on providing emotional support and compassion. Let the person know that you are there for them, and that you care about their well-being. They will likely be happier and healthier for it.
Know When To Walk Away
When it comes to helping a loved one with their mental health, there is only so much you can do. And in some cases, you may even find yourself in a situation where your loved one becomes violent or aggressive.
There are several things that you can do to help diffuse the situation and de-escalate the situation. For example, stay as calm and collected as possible. Try to avoid becoming angry or agitated yourself, as this can escalate the situation further.
You should also remove yourself from the immediate vicinity if possible, or leave the area altogether. This can help to remove any distractions and prevent the situation from escalating any further.
When the situation blows over, talk to your loved one about their behavior in a calm, rational manner to help them understand the severity of their actions.
If you find that your loved one continues to behave in an aggressive manner, it may be best to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help your loved one manage their condition and provide strategies for managing aggressive or violent behaviors.
If your loved one is going through a mental health crisis, it can be difficult to know how to best support them. However, being open-minded and understanding is one of the best things you can do as a loved one.
It can be challenging to remain patient and understanding when your loved one is struggling, especially if you have never experienced something like this yourself. But remember that being open-minded is the best way to help your loved one cope with their mental health problems.
Plus, treatment for mental health conditions is not a one size fits all solution. Everybody responds differently. And because of this, results may vary.
Supporting a loved one can be challenging. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it can seem like nothing helps. As a result, you may start to feel guilty for “letting them down.”
Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Helping a mentally ill friend or family member is not always easy. Not to mention, you aren’t responsible for your loved one’s condition.
Instead of playing the blame game, remember that you’re not alone. There are countless resources available for individuals in similar situations, from therapy to support groups and online forums.
Also, it’s completely fine to take a breather if you need it. Emotional caregiving is hard work. And if you’re not at your best, it can be pretty difficult to be there for someone else.
Some mental health conditions like depression can cause a person to experience unexplainable feelings of sadness and despair. Due to this, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude. Because even if your loved one feels hopeless, you can still have hope for their recovery.
Try to speak positively when talking to them about their mental health crisis. Focus on the positives by reminding them of all the things that make them special, making sure to highlight how much they mean to you.
Still, many times positivity is just not enough. If your loved one is exhibiting dangerous behaviors or having suicidal thoughts, it’s crucial to get them the help they need as soon as possible.