Assessing a Crisis
At difficult points in their lives, many people may find themselves unable to keep up. It may feel difficult or impossible for them to take care of themselves or their loved ones, go to work or school, and complete daily chores. Often, these tasks felt doable at earlier points in their lives.
When people find themselves with decreased ability to cope with life, it can be hard to know what to do. Seeking mental health care or admitting to having a mental health problem is often stigmatized. They may not know who to reach out to or what resources are available to them. Fortunately, by understanding the signs of a crisis, they can begin to understand themselves better, reach out for the care they need, and create a safety net for the future.
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What Is a Crisis?
A crisis is a situation that tends to have intensified emotions, risks, or concerns. When this is true in the context of someone’s mental health, it’s called a mental health crisis. When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, they often lose the ability to function normally in their lives.
Our Definition of a Crisis
Many services and treatments have been designed to treat people experiencing mental health crises. Alter San Diego Crisis Stabilization Unit is a mental health treatment center in the College Area of San Diego, California, that offers crisis services. To ensure our clients receive the best care possible, our crisis stabilization unit (CSU) seats a maximum of 16 clients at once. As a result, we focus on a specific subset of crises. This allows us to better match our services with clients who will benefit the most from them.
Our CSU is intended for those facing a mid-level crisis. Our crisis center is designed for those whose mental health is at a stability level that isn’t appropriate for a lower or higher level of mental health treatment. In addition, individuals interested in care at our center should be interested in formal, structured care similar to that of a psychiatric hospital.
Our treatment plan focuses on the following disorders:
- Bipolar disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Major depression
- Personality disorders
- Panic disorders
- General anxiety disorder
- Trauma or PTSD
Alter San Diego Crisis Stabilization Unit CSU is not intended for those with suicidal ideation or homicidal ideation. For those facing these difficulties, we recommend a higher level of care at a traditional psychiatric hospital.
Signs of a Crisis
It may not always be clear whether a loved one is in a crisis. Many times, it can be easy for someone experiencing mental health difficulties to downplay their symptoms. If symptoms continue for long enough, or with certain types of mental health disorders, harmful symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from typical feelings or behaviors.
The following may be signs of a mental health crisis:
- Social isolation or withdrawal
- Loss of appetite or lack of interest in eating
- Excessive sleepiness or fatigue
- Poor performance at work or school
- Mood swings
- Difficulty caring for oneself
- Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
What to Do in a Crisis
When someone is experiencing a crisis, the most important thing is ensuring their safety. Achieving safety can vary greatly depending on the situation. For less severe or life-threatening crises, a combination of multiple strategies is often most effective. For short-term help, the following techniques may provide benefit:
- Slow, deep breathing
- Removing the person in crisis to a quiet, calm area
- Obtaining or providing soothing tools such as blankets, pillows, or calming music
- Ensuring the person in crisis is fed, hydrated, and rested
Long-term care often requires more specific, expert care. In such cases, it may be most impactful for a person in a mental health crisis to seek professional care.
If someone is suicidal or experiencing an immediate, life-threatening crisis, it is vital to seek help as soon as possible. Call 911, 988, or learn more about your options here.
How We Treat a Crisis
In addition to our myriad of therapy modalities and treatment options, our team has developed a robust, trauma-informed crisis treatment plan, including the following:
- Define the problem: When a new client enters our CSU, we first work diligently together to identify the problem or problems at the core of the crisis. We believe that all care should be person-centered. Our compassionate staff works with you to determine where you most need support.
- Ensure safety: Next, we work with our clients to ensure safety, both in the program and beyond. Our experts and clients determine what is needed most to ensure their safety and help them to achieve those benchmarks. Additionally, our clients stay in a local sober living house while in treatment, ensuring no one feels concerned for their safety.
- Provide support: At the core of our treatment is support. Our clients have access to frequent, cutting-edge treatment options, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
- Examine alternatives: When people enter a crisis, it’s often because something in their lives is failing or breaking. After we’ve identified the problem and provided treatment, we work with our clients to brainstorm ways in which changes can be made. Additionally, we help our clients to plan for future challenges and develop resiliency.
- Make a plan: As our clients prepare to graduate from our CSU, one of the final steps we take is creating a plan. Recovery does not end on the last day of treatment. To ensure your future health, we work with clients to define what needs to happen to prevent a future crisis.
- Obtain commitment: The last step is the most important one: obtaining commitment. As our clients prepare to leave our program, we ensure that their plans and treatment are effective for them and that they are ready and dedicated to recovery.
No one should face a crisis alone. To speak to an Alter San Diego Crisis Stabilization staff member about a potential crisis, call us at (619) 457-4613.