Have you ever lost a job? Been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease? Experienced a divorce? Or lived through a traumatic event? If you have, chances are that you have experienced a mental health crisis.
Normally, we are able to effectively handle daily challenges in our lives; however, there are times when the event is so troublesome and overwhelming that it extends beyond our tried and true coping mechanisms. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness, loss of control and ultimately, crisis. During this time, it may be difficult to participate in activities of daily living such as going to school or work, accomplishing chores, or being able to provide self-care. It’s important to note that you are not alone.
Mental health crises are extremely common, and account for approximately 6 percent of primary care visits.
In mental health crisis management, there are steps that can help stabilize the situation and outline specific measures to allow you to get through this challenging time in your life.
Steps to Resolving a Crisis:
- Seek the help of a trusted medical professional: Choose someone who will give you adequate time and a safe environment to discuss your current situation, explore your feelings, and listen to your concerns.
- Identify and assess the severity of the crisis: Identify the specific problem or issue and how the current crisis is impacting your day-to-day activities. It is also important to identify what triggered the event, what your coping strategies have been thus far, and possible solutions.
- Ensure the safety of you and others around you: It is critical that you be as open and honest with your provider regarding any thoughts you may have about hurting yourself or others around you. This will allow the provider to intervene in such a way to ensure everyone’s safety. It is also important to see to it that any family members that could be vulnerable or in danger, such as from an abusive partner or post natural disaster, be removed from the environment and provided a safe place to stay.
- Develop an action plan which includes:
- Stabilizing acute distress: Seeking support from loved ones, relaxation techniques, or short-term use of medications
- Exploring options: Available resources, community partnerships, hobbies, coping mechanisms, and positive thinking
- Make a plan: Include specific and realistic steps to promote stability and control
- Commit to the plan!
- Follow up: Here you can share your status with your provider, evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and tools you outlined in your action plan, and celebrate any positive accomplishments that have been achieved through positive coping mechanisms.
Remember, in times of crisis, it may seem as though you have no control. While it’s true that sometimes the events that initiate crisis can be beyond our control, how we respond to those events is. It is our resilience and ability to persevere through challenging times that can truly define who we are.