8 strategies to assist a loved one in a mental health crisis and perhaps save their life

Suicidal thoughts, overwhelming distress, and feelings of overwhelm can all occur during a mental health crisis. You can help a loved one in need by getting to the bottom of what they need and giving them your undivided attention. Help them phone a crisis hotline, such as 988, if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts while you remain at their side. When a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, it’s normal to feel concerned or even terrified, but there are many things you can do to support them.

Trauma or severe pressures that make it impossible to function normally might trigger a mental health crisis. Though not everyone in a crisis will have a plan to end their life, experiencing this level of extreme pain may occasionally cause someone to have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

The first step in providing compassionate assistance is to keep in mind that your loved one didn’t choose to feel this pain. A mental health crisis isn’t their responsibility, to put it briefly.

Another crucial stage in knowing when to provide support? being aware of crisis symptoms.

Some indications of a mental health crisis, according to Dr. Andrew Davis, , a psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente in Maryland, include:

Mood swings that happen quickly and increasing agitation Self-harm Increasing drug use withdrawing or isolating oneself from others Psychosis, also known as losing one’s sense of reality and characterized by delusions or hallucinations Paranoia inability to carry out everyday activities and practice essential self-care, such as eating, taking a shower, and obtaining adequate sleep Find eight suggestions from mental health professionals below to help your loved one cope with their distress and seek care.

1. Assisting them in contacting crisis support You can start by assisting your loved one to contact a crisis counselor if they have voiced thoughts of harming themselves or others or if you are genuinely concerned for their health and well-being.

Crisis counselors are trained to: According to Tavi Hawn , a licensed clinical social worker and creator of Reclaim andamp; Rise ,

With compassion, listen Distress-relieving techniques such as calling a friend, going for a walk, or listening to music can be discussed. Describe the local resources available. Help your loved one perform grounding exercises, including light stretching or focusing on their breathing. among the crisis hotlines are

Dial 988: Crisis Text Line ::::: Local mental health crisis response teams are available in some cities and towns, and they can send out counselors to defuse a situation, determine whether or not your loved one is safe at home, and put them in touch with beneficial resources.

Find out whether there is a response team in your region by contacting the local police department or the state’s local mental health department.

2. Provide diversion In order to help your loved one stay grounded in the present and establish some mental distance from their source of misery, Davis advises assisting them in finding a distracting hobby.

Here are some things to consider:

playing an uplifting film Drawing, painting, or engaging in another creative endeavor Having a nourishing dinner with friends or making one together going for a stroll outside together Asking your loved one what would feel good to them at that time is advised by Dr. Zishan Khan , a psychiatrist with Mindpath Health , as the same diversions may not work for everyone. If they reply that they are unsure, it is acceptable to make some recommendations or inquire as to whether it could be more beneficial to simply sit and discuss.

3. DISCUSS THEIR NEEDS Ask them what they need from you rather than presuming you know how they are feeling. For instance, you may inquire:

What can I do right now to make your life simpler for you? Do you need anything off your plate to help you feel less overwhelmed? Would there be anything in particular that would make spending time with you right now feel extremely pleasant to you? According to Stephani Jahn , a certified mental health counselor in private practice, “Maybe they need someone to provide accountability for the efforts they wish to take to better themselves, like checking in after treatment meetings.”

Or perhaps they’d find it convenient to go grocery shopping or batch cook once a week to make their lives simpler, speculates Jahn.

4. Follow up regarding suicidal thoughts Asking if your loved one has pondered suicide may feel daunting at first, but it’s important to remember to do so.

It’s a fallacy that discussing suicide can make someone more likely to try suicide. In actuality, experts have found discussing about suicide can both lessen suicidal thoughts and enhance mental health.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Dr. Andrew Davis, 0, “When someone is experiencing the kind of deep emotional suffering you are, they may occasionally consider suicide. Have you ever considered that?”

By posing this query, you can reassure them that they can open up to you about their suicidal ideas.

5. LISTEN AND CONFIRM According to Khan, simply listening to your loved one express their stories without passing judgment is a priceless way to show support.

You may try introducing yourself by saying, “Recently, I’ve observed “XYZ behavior,” and because I know you’ve gone through a lot lately, I just want to make sure you’re okay. How are you feeling lately?”

Give them your whole attention after that and give them space to process any unpleasant emotions they may be experiencing, suggests Dr. Andrew Davis, 1, a registered psychiatrist and the Chief Medical Officer of Dr. Andrew Davis, 2.

Although your first instinct would be to try and solve the issue or cheer them up, Patel-Dunn warns that this strategy may unintentionally invalidate their sentiments.

However, Khan advises saying something like “That seems incredibly difficult” or “It makes sense that you would feel overwhelmed” to assist normalize their experience.

6. ASSIST THEM IN FINDING A THERAPIST You might nudge your loved one to contact their therapist in a time of need if they already do. Khan suggests offering to assist them locate a therapist if they don’t already have one.

You can begin by looking for nearby certified mental health specialists in online directories like:
24/7 confidential help and assistance with treatment referrals is available through SAMHSA.

You can also assist by scheduling sessions for your loved one or by calling possible therapists to see if they are accepting new patients and would accept their insurance. If transportation is a problem, Davis advises offering to drive them to their appointment or offering to help with child care.

You can assist a loved one in looking for Dr. Andrew Davis, 4 if they are unable to obtain therapy for any reason. NAMI, for instance, conducts virtual Dr. Andrew Davis, 5 and Dr. Andrew Davis, 6, both of which are absolutely free to take part in.

The virtual connection groups entail sharing experiences in a friendly environment and learning new coping mechanisms, whereas the recovery program includes a variety of discussions and activities, such as developing a support network and crisis plan.

7. CONNECT REGULARLY Keep in touch with a loved one who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Not simply to let them know you care, but also so you can be alert to any indications they’re thinking suicide or self-harm. A simple “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you today, how are you feeling?” phone call or text can go a long way.

“Many people are reluctant to ask for assistance because they are afraid of being judged, they feel embarrassed or ashamed, or they fear being ignored and rejected. They require confirmation that they are not alone, and demonstrating care and empathy for them demonstrates that they are deserving of love “Khan claims.

Encourage other friends and relatives to check in, especially on days when you know you won’t have the chance, to strengthen your loved one’s network of support.

8. BE AWARE OF WHEN TO SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ASSISTANCE Your first instinct might be to rush a loved one with suicide thoughts to the emergency department, but emergency room staff and police officers aren’t always trained to deal with mental health emergencies.

According to Hawn, calling the police while experiencing a mental health emergency might be stressful or even Dr. Andrew Davis, 7, Dr. Andrew Davis, 8.

Davis advises contacting a local mobile crisis intervention unit, your loved one’s therapist, or a crisis hotline in the majority of situations rather than going to the ER.

However, if your loved one exhibits any of the following symptoms, you may need to go to the ER right away.

Delusions, hallucinations, or other Dr. Andrew Davis, 9. a strategy for suicide, the desire to pass away, and the tools to do it. physical symptoms that could be fatal, like injuries from self-injury or respiratory problems brought on by alcohol or other drugs use. Khan advises phoning 911 in the event of a mental health emergency and immediately informing the operator that you need a crisis intervention officer. Additionally, you can get in touch with regional crisis services to request a mediator who can be present throughout the interaction with the police.

INSIDER’S KEY LESSON You may experience a sense of helplessness, fear, and helplessness when someone you care about is in intense and overwhelming pain.

But keep in mind that they didn’t choose to feel this way, and there are a number of things you can do to help them get through this trying period. For instance, you might be able to provide some much-needed comfort by empathizing with and without passing judgment on their worries.

According to Jahn, “loved ones’ acceptance and support are tremendously crucial in helping someone recover from these crises.”

Others could require some quality time with you or some interesting distractions, while some may need additional assistance in locating a therapist and managing daily obligations.

Ask if you are unsure of what your loved one needs from you.
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