What Is A Mental Health Crisis?

Knowing what is a mental health crisis in a loved one or friend could save their lives and help them progress quickly to recovery.

Identifying it in yourself can be tricky, so I am mainly aiming this article at those who share their lives with someone who has had mental illness issues in the past or who are not behaving the way they usually do.

what is a mental health crisis and emergency
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I myself have been in a mental health crisis several times, and I have been in hospital because of such several times. There is no shame in this; it is just a fact that if you had an emergency physical symptom such as a burst appendix, you need to go to the hospital.

Although, you might not need to be hospitalised, you would receive much-needed treatment outside of a mental health unit. This could be in the form of your local crisis team visiting you or your family doctor.

So What is a Mental Health Crisis?

I would say the following constitutes a mental health crisis:

  • The person’s life is in danger from themselves; they threaten self-harm or talk about no way out.
  • They may exhibit signs of completely withdrawing from all things such as family, hobbies and work.
  • They are quiet and not talking about how they are feeling, yet you know something wrong.
  • Medication has been withdrawn, and their previous symptoms have become worse; see the depression symptoms list.
  • In bipolar, they can either be severely depressed on manic; if they are the latter, they will be full of grandiose ideas, possibly delusional in their beliefs, and they might even be hallucinating.
  • They could be experiencing high anxiety, flashbacks or extremely paranoid.

The above is what I believe to be a mental health crisis and excellent reasons for seeking out support from medical professionals.

Hiding a Mental Health Crisis

what is a mental health crisis

Sometimes people hide it well, I for one, I have the ability to mask my illness to a certain extent which inevitably leads to a hospital stay because I am not treated soon enough. Although thankfully, this has not happened for many years.

It would help if you were sure the person you are caring for or worried about is not masking their true intentions, but how can you tell when someone is in a mental health crisis, and they are hiding it.

  • Their actions are not supported by their speech or facial expressions.
  • Cuts appear on them with no explanation or plasters or bandages.
  • They come out with all manner of excuses for not doing something or going somewhere.
  • Sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • They are not eating or eating too much.
  • They hide how much money they are spending.
  • You keep catching them out in lies.

This is masking an illness; the person knows they are unwell but will not admit to it for fear of hospitalisation, fear of failure, not wanting to cause a scene. Or, in the case of mania, they feel too good and do not see what the problem is.

What to do in a Mental Health Crisis

The first thing to realise is that the person needs help; they might not know it, which can cause extra problems by refusing to be treated if this is the case, you need to contact your local crisis team to come and provide an assessment.

If you can get the person to the hospital to the emergency department, then normally you will be taken to a quiet space, however with the pandemic, it might mean leaving your loved one there as you could be stopped from entering the hospital as in some areas, only the patient is allowed in.

If you cannot get them to the hospital, phone your local medical practitioner and tell them of the situation, they will probably contact the crisis team on your behalf.

You can also contact mental health charities, such as the Samaritans or Mind for advice.

In my experience, the best place is either a crisis team intervention, but not if the person you are concerned about is lying about their condition; people are easily blinkered. If they are lying, like I do on occasions, you have to get them to the hospital to be assessed by a psychiatrist on call.

Numbers and Websites

I hope the article has helped you understand what a mental health crisis is and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Please also leave other helpful numbers from your country if you know of them, as you might help someone who is going through difficulty.

Peace & Blessings

Lou x

i'm not a doctor

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2 Responses

  1. This is a really informative and helpful post! Thank you for being clear and sharing your knowledge about this topic x

  2. Sadie says:

    This is really helpful, especially (I think) when dealing with individuals who have grown up learning the mental health language and bandy it about. It can be hard to know when it’s a real crisis and not just the language of crisis. (If that makes sense.)

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