Coping with a Mental Health Crisis

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, you’re not alone. More than 43 million people in the United States experience mental illness each year. Many of these individuals will experience a mental health emergency. 

Stressful situations and trauma can escalate symptoms and lead to a mental health crisis and it may be necessary to visit a mental health treatment center.

When to Get Immediate Help

Mental health crises affect people differently. If any of the following situations apply to you, please seek immediate help at a mental health treatment center:

  • You’re thinking about ending your life or attempting to end your life.
  • You’re combining dangerous substances, such as medication and alcohol.
  • You’re seeing or feeling things that aren’t real.
  • You’re making dangerous life choices.
  • You’re unable to care for yourself.
  • You’re experiencing serious side effects from your medications.

To get help:

  • Call 911
  • Head to the emergency room
  • Call 1-800-273-8255 anytime – 24/7

Coping with a Mental Health Emergency

Navigating a mental health crisis can be a challenge, but there is help and support that can help you get through it and get the appropriate care at a mental health treatment center. 

Prevention is Key

Prevention is the best way to handle a mental health emergency. Preventative measures can include:

  • Making sure that you’re following your treatment plan.
  • Using stress management skills. 
  • Leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • Creating a plan for managing stressful events.
  • Keeping a close eye on your symptoms.
  • Talking to your mental health professional when you notice a change in your symptoms.

Prevention is key, but it’s also important to remember that even when you’re doing your best, you may still feel unwell. Being able to recognize the warning signs and having a plan of action can help you cope with an emergency or crisis when it arises.

Recognize the Warning Signs

It’s important to understand and be aware of the warning signs of a mental health emergency, so you can seek help if necessary and have a plan of action.

Common signs of a developing mental health crisis include:

  • Mood swings.
  • Inability to perform daily self-care tasks, such as bathing, brushing teeth and changing clothes.
  • Agitation or violent outbursts.
  • Paranoia.
  • Abusive behavior towards yourself or others, including self-harm and substance abuse.
  • Isolation from friends, family, work and/or school.

Sometimes, there are no warning signs. 

Take Action

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, it’s time to take action. Don’t wait until your symptoms get worse.

  • Reach out to a friend or family member. Talk about what you’re going through. A trusted loved one can also make the call for help on your behalf. Having support and encouragement from your family and friends can make a world of difference in your recovery.
  • Contact your therapist. If you feel like a crisis is developing or has already developed, contacting your mental health provider can help ensure that you get the help you need.

If your symptoms are serious, call a crisis hotline (1-800-273-8255) or head to the nearest emergency room.

Get Help

Getting help is the next and most important step. Now that you’ve recognized the signs and reached out to those you trust, you can get the help you need.

There are two types of treatment options:

Mental Health Treatment Center

Treatment centers offer intensive care and help. You will be admitted to the facility, where you will live and work on getting through the crisis. The length of your stay will depend on the severity of the emergency.

Outpatient Treatment

With outpatient treatment, you will continue with your regular routine while receiving mental health services. Although less restrictive, outpatient treatment is not as intensive as inpatient treatment. 

Even when you’re doing your best, you can still experience an emergency or crisis. Navigating a mental health crisis can be difficult, but being able to recognize the warnings signs, taking action and seeking treatment can help you overcome it.

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