Warning Signs of a Mental Health Crisis and Strategies for De-Escalation

Between 32% and 50% of people will suffer from a mental health disorder at some point in their lifetime. Common stressors can end up triggering mental health problems in children and adults. If a mental health crisis occurs, there are a few things loved ones can do to help.


What is a Mental Health Crisis?

A mental health crisis is a situation where someone’s behavior poses a risk to themselves or others. This term may also refer to times when the person’s behavior prevents them from being a functioning member of the community. They may also be unable to properly care for themselves.

There are many conditions and situations that can lead to mental health crisis symptoms. For example, the individual may suffer from trauma, suicidal thoughts, or depression. They may also be dealing with self-harm, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, or substance abuse.


Signs of a Mental Health Crisis

If you think your loved one is having mental health problems, there are a few mental health crisis symptoms you should watch out for. When in doubt, — always reach out to a mental health professional for more help. The following symptoms are signs someone may be dealing with a mental health crisis:

  • Isolation from loved ones
  • Sudden mood swings or changes in energy levels
  • Inability to take care of daily tasks and grooming activities
  • Agitation and violent behavior
  • Destruction of property and violent threats
  • Self-harm behaviors or abusive behaviors towards self and other people
  • Pacing or problems sitting still
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis and a sense of being out of touch with reality
  • Hearing voices and seeing things that aren’t there


What to do when there is a Mental Health Crisis

If your loved one is going through a mental health crisis, there are a few things you can do to de-escalate the situation.


Stay Calm: The most important thing is to always stay calm. You should express support and concern without overreacting. Otherwise, you can end up making a difficult situation worse.


Listen: Sometimes, the best way to help someone who is going through a difficult time is by listening to them. Ask them what you can do to help, and be patient.


Avoid Overstimulation: During a mental health crisis, you want to avoid overstimulating the person in any way. Don’t touch them unless you have permission, don’t make continuous eye contact, and move slowly. You should give them plenty of space, so they don’t feel like they are trapped.


Give Them Options: Instead of telling the individual what to do, provide them with options. This gives them a sense of control. If you need to take action, announce what you are doing before you do it.


Don’t Argue: If you want to de-escalate the situation, don’t try to argue with the person. You should also avoid judgmental comments. Emotions and feelings are often not logical, so don’t try to reason with them.


Call ‘988’ Mental Health Crisis Hotline for Help: During a mental health crisis, dial 988 on your phone, and you can instantly talk to a mental health professional. This mental health crisis hotline provides 24/7 support for people who are experiencing emotional distress or a suicidal crisis.


Additional Mental Health Support

Aurora Behavioral Health offers a range of programs to help people who are struggling with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse problems, and more. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, Aurora Behavioral Health can help. To learn more about our programs and get support 24/7, contact us today at 877.870.7012 or visit us online at AuroraArizona.com. Help is only a phone call away.