How do you respond to a mental health crisis?

March 15, 2018 | by Denise Elsbree, LCSW
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

First aid is more than treating cuts, burns and fractures. It’s more than using the Heimlich maneuver when someone is choking, or giving CPR when someone stops breathing. First aid can also be a lifesaver for someone with mental illness.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches you how to help someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. We need MHFA now more than ever.

You are more likely to encounter someone — a friend, family member or neighbor — in an emotional crisis than someone having a heart attack. Although 1 in 5 American adults experiences mental illness in a given year, more than half won’t receive treatment.

We need to get better at recognizing when someone is in need and knowing how to help.

What does depression or anxiety look like? How can you help someone having a panic attack, or with a substance use disorder? What are the warning signs of psychosis? How do you know if a person is suicidal?

Acting quickly to connect a person with the right treatment can be life-changing and lifesaving.

MHFA teaches you how to intervene when someone is experiencing a mental health issue. You learn risk factors and warning signs that someone is struggling, along with intervention strategies to use until professional help is available. The MHFA Action Plan consists of:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Anyone, anywhere can make a difference for someone facing a mental health problem or substance use disorder. Let’s work together to make responding to a mental health crisis as common as using CPR in a cardiac emergency.

Linden Oaks Behavioral Health trains people in Mental Health First Aid. Learn more.

Get support at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

Related blogs:

6 ways to help someone having a panic attack
Signs your teen may be abusing alcohol

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