Dealing with Mental Health Crisis

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Dealing with a Mental Health Crisis is Possible

Each year, 52.9 million people in the US experience mental illness. For 14.2 million of them, their condition impairs their ability to function; it can be hard to maintain relationships, hold a job and fulfill responsibilities.

Mental illness may also put you at risk for a crisis, a state in which your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors increase your risk for self-harm/suicide or harm to others.

In fact, 46% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition.

But this outcome isn’t set in stone.

A mental health crisis can be successfully managed, and you don’t have to do it alone. Read on to learn about how to recognize a mental health crisis, and what to do about it.

Signs of a Mental Health Crisis

There’s no universal checklist for mental health crisis symptoms. Sometimes, there are no signs at all. However, common signs to watch for include:

  • Inability to do basic self-care tasks (showering, hygiene, eating, etc.)
  • Increased aggression and violence towards others
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Social withdrawal
  • Extreme personality changes
  • Seeing/hearing/believing things that aren’t real
  • Self-harm and substance abuse
  • Thoughts of suicide

Risk Factors for a Mental Health Crisis?

A mental health crisis can be triggered by a number of stressors, like:

  • Relationship problems
  • Abuse and domestic unrest
  • Work stress
  • Trauma and violence
  • Social isolation
  • Discrimination
  • Use and abuse of alcohol and drugs
  • Physical illness
  • Suddenly stopping medications without the help of a doctor
  • History of mental illness, self-harm, or suicide attempts

How to Deal with a Mental Health Crisis

Responding to a mental health crisis depends on the situation.

Scenario 1: You’re experiencing thoughts of suicide and have a plan in place.

  • Go to the emergency room, or call 9-11 immediately.

Scenario 2: You’re contemplating suicide but are hesitant.

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Their staff is specifically trained to support you through periods of suicidal ideation.
  • Tell loved ones what’s happening for additional support.
  • Alert your doctor or mental health professional.

Scenario 3: You’re noticing your mental health declining but aren’t thinking about suicide.

  • Reach out to safe people.
  • Join a support group for people experiencing similar things.
  • Try to do things that make you feel better, even if it’s difficult (exercise, sleep, time outside, socializing, etc.)
  • Seek support from a mental health professional like the UCA 24-Hour Counseling Hotline. Connect with a qualified counselor who can provide a safe, caring space. Counselors can:
  • Provide empathetic support
    • Help you build a coping “toolbox” for current and future crises
    • Connect you with community resources
    • Refer you to an in-person counselor
    • Help you build a long-term treatment plan

Benefits of the UCA 24-Hour Counseling Hotline

  • You can access mental health care immediately, available 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • You can do it from home, so you don’t have to commute or deal with waiting rooms when you’re not feeling well.
  • You can remain in a place that feels safe and have comfort items around (like pets).
  • You can protect your privacy, with no risk of running into acquaintances or coworkers in the waiting room.

Access the counseling hotline for free when you sign up for a UCA membership. Check out our info page to learn more about the 24 Hour Counseling Hotline and see if it’s the right fit for you.

If you’re having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Phone: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


TTY: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 and then 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


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