When a mental health crisis happens to someone you know, it can catch you by surprise. You may not realize that the person was having mental health issues. Maybe they have a positive attitude, appear happy, or seem put together.
But how someone acts or looks on the outside may not represent how they feel on the inside. Mental health crises can happen to anyone. And there are risk factors besides a mental health disorder that can factor into a mental health crisis.
Understanding the risk factors for a mental health crisis and recognizing the warning signs are important so that you can help to improve the outcome.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines a mental health crisis as:
Any situation in which a person's behavior puts them at risk of hurting themselves or others and/or prevents them from being able to care for themselves or function effectively in the community.
A mental health crisis can differ from person to person. Symptoms of a mental health crisis can vary based on the mental health disorder someone is struggling with.
Signs of a mental health crisis may include:
Many factors can contribute to someone's risk of experiencing a mental health crisis. Risk factors for a mental health crisis might include:
A leading cause of death in the United States, suicide has long-lasting effects on families, friends, and communities. It's possible to prevent suicide if you know the common warning signs.
Warning signs of suicide include:
You can support someone at risk of a mental health crisis by encouraging them to get professional help. Getting mental health treatment may prevent the condition from worsening, which may help prevent a crisis.
Even with treatment, mental health crises can occur. Someone going through a mental health crisis may find it hard to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs. Be patient and follow these tips to try to de-escalate the situation:
Someone in a mental health crisis may not understand what you are saying or that you are trying to help them. Get professional help by calling or texting one of the numbers below if the crisis continues despite your best effort.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, get help right away. The following resources offer trained mental health counselors. They will listen, provide support, and connect you with additional resources, if necessary:
resolve Crisis Services (for those in Allegheny County): 1-888-796-8226.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Call or text 988, or chat online at 988lifeline.org. Dialing 988 connects callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Speaking to a Lifeline counselor can make a real difference in how you feel and get you, or someone you love, through a crisis.
Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990.
Trevor Lifeline (for LGBTQ+ youth): Call 1-866-488-7386, text 678-678, or chat online at thetrevorproject.org
Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988, then select option 1. Or text 838255 or chat online at veteranscrisisline.net.
Call 911 if it's an emergency and you need immediate help.