When a loved one appears to be spiraling into a mental health crisis, it can be difficult to know what to do to help. Fortunately, you have several places to turn in order to ask for the help that you need. A good first place to start is by calling The National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303. The specialist you speak with will point you in the right direction toward what you should do next.
Is Your Loved One Experiencing a Crisis?
Your loved one may be having a difficult time right now because he or she is experiencing a mental health crisis, which is common when someone has been diagnosed with a mental disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that 10% of patients will be readmitted to a psychiatric hospital within one month of being released, and another 20% will be readmitted within six months.
When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, it is difficult for him or her to cope during times of stress, shame, grief, or guilt. If a person also has a substance use disorder, he or she may begin to use the drug of choice again.
If your loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, you can recognize it in the following signs:
• Alcohol or drug use
• Lack of sleep
• Fights with others
• Inability to concentrate
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Lack of appetite
What Are Mental Health Triggers?
Not all mental health crises begin with a trigger, but in many cases, a deep decline in mental health can be triggered by a particularly troubling event. Such events can include:
• Difficulties parenting children
• Refusals to take medications for mental disorders
• Substance use or alcohol use disorder
• An upsetting event or troublesome news
• Loss of the support of family members
• Diagnosis of an illness
• Financial difficulties
• Stress at work or at home
Get a Mental Health Assessment
If your loved one has never been diagnosed with a mental disorder before, you may need to be the one to take them for a mental health assessment. You can make an appointment with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or family doctor to find out if your loved one has a mental illness for which they can receive treatment.
It is true that everyone can feel down at times, but the crisis that your loved one is going through may be more than just the regular ups and downs of life. The depression or the anxiety that he or she is experiencing may be getting in the way of living a normal, happy life; if this is the case, you must help the individual take control of it. According to the research, early intervention is more likely to lead to a complete recovery.
What Does a Mental Health Assessment Entail?
Your loved one will need to submit to a physical examination because some illnesses can cause symptoms similar to those of certain mental illnesses. During the examination, the doctor will take blood work for the purpose of diagnosing any illness. Your loved one will also need to be prepared to be honest about any drug or alcohol use.
The physician will ask questions about the history of the mental disorder. For example, how long has he or she been experiencing symptoms, and does the person have a family or personal history of mental illness? Lastly, the physician will want to know about your loved one’s personal history and whether or not he or she is under any stress.
During the mental evaluation, the physician will ask your loved one about his or her feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. The physician will ask how your loved one manages symptoms and what makes him or her feel better or worse. The doctor will also observe your loved one’s outward appearance.
During the cognitive evaluation, the doctor will determine whether your loved one is thinking clearly, can remember information, and can use mental reasoning. Your loved one may need to demonstrate an ability to perform math problems or to recognize shapes. Lastly, the individual may be asked to describe the day and explain whether he or she having difficulties caring for himself or herself.
If you believe that your loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, it is your duty to address this issue with him or her. Let your loved one know that you are concerned and that you will help in any way you can. If the person is not receptive to your overtures, know that you cannot force them to do anything. If you believe that your loved one may harm himself or herself, you should call the suicide prevention hotline.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free service that is available to help prevent suicide 24 hours a day. Trained hotline operators will offer you resources designed to help your loved one. They can also point you in the direction of the most appropriate professionals for your needs. You can be assured that the counselors will maintain confidentiality, so contact them if you are concerned about your loved one. If you believe that substance abuse is playing a role in your loved one’s crisis, you can also call The National Rehab Hotline for help exploring local resources for recovery.
What Is a Crisis Intervention?
A crisis intervention is a tactic that you can use to address your loved one if he or she is experiencing emotional, behavioral, physical or mental distress. The intervention has the very important role of restoring your loved one’s equilibrium and preventing continuous mental distress.
Trained crisis counselors conduct these interventions, which can occur anywhere it would be most comfortable for you and the target of the intervention. The intervention will not be a time when your loved one will receive counseling for his or her mental disorder or substance disorder. An intervention will give your loved one the immediate assistance he or she needs and knowledge of the resources that can help the individual move through this crisis. In the process, he or she may feel more stable and will know that he or she has your support.
Who Are Crisis Intervention Professionals?
An intervention might require the help of several professionals. These may include doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists. The intervention that you stage for a loved one experiencing a mental health crisis will require the assistance of a certified crisis intervention counselor. A certified crisis intervention counselor will be instrumental in helping your loved one feel stable again after experiencing strong emotions that a difficult event may have caused.
You must be prepared for your intervention to last several hours, and you may need to meet with the counselor more than one time. These sessions have been known to last for several weeks when the patient’s condition was particularly troubled.
What If a Mental Health Crisis and a Substance Use Disorder Occur Together?
If your loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis at the same time that he or she is also struggling with a substance use disorder, crisis intervention would be warranted. Your loved one may have returned to drug use as a way of treating a mental health disorder. Even if he or she does not have a substance use disorder, your loved one may turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the emotional and physical distress he or she may be experiencing.
The time to stage an intervention is before a substance use spirals out of control. Your loved one may not be addicted to drugs or alcohol yet, so it is imperative that you act quickly. An intervention will teach your loved one how he or she can cope effectively with a mental disorder so that the alcohol or drug use doesn’t turn into a substance use disorder.
If your loved one is using drugs or drinking to the point at which it is causing very serious harm, this is the time for an intervention. The fact that a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder are troubling your loved one at the same time makes this a particularly dangerous situation.
What Is a Crisis Assessment?
Before you can perform an intervention, you need to perform an assessment of the situation. A mental health counselor will interview the patient and ask questions about his or her past history of mental health crises. Your loved one will need to tell the counselor how long he or she has been experiencing these crises and how he or she is affected emotionally.
The counselor will do several assessments to ensure that the intervention runs smoothly. The first thing the counselor will want to do is determine what condition the patient is in so that professionals can develop the appropriate treatment plan.
The second thing that your counselor will do is perform a crisis assessment. The counselor will ask about your loved one’s experiences during his or her crises. The counselor will make a cultural assessment and a social assessment to determine how much stress your loved one is under, the problems he or she is experiencing, and how severe the crisis seems to be.
The Seven-Stage Crisis Intervention Model
One example of a crisis intervention is the seven-stage crisis intervention model. This model was created to be a guide that people can follow toward resolving crisis situations. It is also known as the Assessment, Crisis, Intervention, Trauma, Treatment Model. The seven stages are:
1. Perform a biopsychological/imminent danger assessment.
2. Quickly develop a trusting relationship with the participants.
3. Explain what occurred that brought everyone to the point of needing an intervention.
4. Help everyone to examine his or her emotions and feelings.
5. Explore new ways of coping with stresses and anxieties.
6. Bring everyone back to a functional place by creating a plan of action.
7. Schedule your next sessions.
What If Your Loved One Refuses to Get Help?
Interventions don’t always work. Sometimes, people are extremely stubborn, and they refuse to admit that there is a problem. Their conditions may cause them to lash out when people are only trying to help. In such cases, you must determine whether or not your loved one is a danger to his or her own safety or to others. If so, you should call emergency services.
What Is Involuntary Civil Commitment?
In the event that you cannot leave your loved one alone, you may be forced to consider involuntary civil commitment. Involuntary civil commitment is another form of intervention, but this one involves a judge. The judge may order your loved one to be confined to a facility if he or she is exhibiting symptoms of a serious mental disorder. The judge can also order your loved one to enter into an outpatient treatment program for a period of time.
Call Emergency Services
If your loved one is experiencing a mental health emergency that threatens anyone’s safety, you cannot wait. You must call 911. If you are afraid of your loved one or if your loved one hurt somebody, you need to call the authorities. If you notice that your loved one is unable to care for himself or herself as in the past, it is time to call. Your loved one may become destructive and damage property, or you may believe that your loved one will hurt someone if left alone. These are the times when it is imperative that you contact emergency services for your loved one.
Even if your loved one’s mental health has not reached a critical breaking point, you may feel alone and struggle to find help. Rest assured that you can reach out to The National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303 for assistance.