What You Should Do in a Crisis:

Tips on what to do if you ever find yourself in a crisis.


What You Should Do in a Crisis

When you live with a mental health condition, your brain and body often send you a message that makes you feel like you are in a crisis situation. But sometimes you may find yourself in a dangerous situation.

For our purposes here, a crisis might mean getting in trouble with the law or injuring yourself accidentally or on purpose. It’s also a crisis situation if you find yourself developing a plan to take your own life or are considering hurting others. Here are some steps to help guide your decision making if you find yourself in a crisis.

Evaluate the Situation

What is the nature of the crisis?  Is it something that requires treatment urgently?

If you or someone you know has developed a plan to kill themselves, that’s an immediate mental health crisis and that person should go to a hospital emergency room or call 911. If they’re not sure if it’s urgent, ask them if you have already thought about what method that they would use. If they’ve thought about where, how or when they would take their life, that means that they’ve begun developing a plan.

If they’re still hesitating, have a family member to stay with them while they may be at risk and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 as soon as possible. They have trained counselors available to speak with you 24/7, to assist in a crisis situation. They should also get in touch with their mental health professionals. Tell professionals and the people around them what’s going on and get their advice. They don’t need to be sworn to secrecy.

Avoiding a Crisis

If you or a loved one is living with a mental health condition, it’s important to plan ahead. Talking with a treatment team can help guide decisions on where to go for intensive treatment, how to get there, how to take time off of work, and methods that can be used to stay calm in an emergency.

Above all, those closest to you should know how to reach a mental health professional in case of an emergency. It’s also valuable to know the phone number of a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), if your area has one. CIT officers are police officers trained to handle crisis situations involving mental illness.

If you or a loved one’s health condition has grown worse recently, but are not having thoughts of suicide, it could mean that help should be sought or treatment plan changes should be made, if already receiving treatment.

Talk with Your Doctor

If your health worsening, the first thing to do is to call your mental health professionals and explain the situation. Don’t be afraid to speak openly and honestly about what is and isn’t working with your treatment plan.

If you don’t currently have a mental health professional, make an urgent appointment with a primary care physician, just as you would for the flu or an infection, so that you can begin finding professional support quickly.

Take Care of Yourself

Think about what has helped in the past and create a “toolbox” of coping mechanisms. 

Would it help to talk to a friend? To meditate or take a nap? To exercise or go for a walk? Take action to help yourself, even if you doubt it will work. Doubt and feelings of helplessness may be symptoms of a mental health condition. Do something that might make you feel better and observe how you feel afterwards.

Your immediate discomfort will be easier to bear if you have a long-term treatment plan, because you can remind yourself that your difficult times are becoming fewer and less severe. Remember that you are not alone, and help is available.

Reach Out to Others

In difficult times, many people benefit from reaching out to friends, family and support groups for encouragement. For resources or information on mental health services, please call our Access Center at 855-996-2264. You can also use our local line by dialing 586-948-0222 or contact our Crisis Line by dialing 586-307-9100. 


Author: By John Pascaretti

Don’t be afraid to speak openly and honestly about what is and isn’t working with your treatment plan.

—-John Pascaretti

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