If someone you love experiences a mental health crisis, do you know what to do? Are you able to follow some effective early steps? Recognizing a mental health crisis is vital, and being proactive in its initial stages is essential for a successful intervention. Our experts at Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention have educated many people about how to take these early steps.
The Importance of Early Steps
Supporting a loved one with mental health issues can be challenging and stressful. You may find that every day looks different, and some new issues may emerge. While keeping up with new symptoms of your loved one’s mental health, you also need to watch for any warning signs of a nervous breakdown or a crisis.
Most mental health crises have early warning signs. The difficulties lie in people’s ability to detect them. Neglecting these early signs may lead to harmful or even life-threatening consequences. Sometimes, people ignore these signs because of stigma. Other times, they might simply not know where and how to seek treatment.
Early steps may also begin when mental health problems happen among children or teenagers. They are at an important developmental stage in terms of brain health. Timely intervention or treatment can drastically reduce the risk of future mental health crises. To conclude, early intervention is essential for crisis prevention in any age group.
Stages of a Mental Health Crisis
Believe it or not, most mental health crises follow a fairly predictable pattern. If you are careful enough to observe a loved one’s life, you will be able to detect a few phases. First, there is the pre-crisis stage when a person shows some signs of trouble or distress. Through observation and conversations with family and friends, these signs of distress can be detected.
The second stage is a full-blown mental health crisis when distress reaches a critical turning point. This is the acute phase. A person in crisis may become overwhelmed by distress that they can no longer function in life. They fail to perform in school or at work. Their sleep patterns are interrupted. They lose a sense of control over life. There might even be self-harm or suicidal tendencies.
Following a crisis, there should be an intervention to stabilize the person who is experiencing overwhelming stress. Family and friends may come to surround and support them. But a crisis is a moment calling for a professional intervention by mental health specialists. They have a structured way to assess and design treatment methods. For example, assessing the causes and severity of a crisis requires the expertise to screen for mental illnesses and personal medical history.
Lastly, there needs to be a post-crisis stage when a person continues to recover until long-term mental health stability is achieved. This will take a long time and would require a strong support system, including a continuum of care from mental health experts. Otherwise, nobody can guarantee that there will not be another crisis in the future.
Early Steps in Initial Crisis Intervention
The pre-crisis stage calls for preparedness and effective mitigation. Although you are not a mental health expert, you are closest to your loved one’s life than anyone else. This means that you have access to the observation data that is needed for pre-crisis mitigation. When you observe unusual emotional distress in your loved one, it is crucial to keep all lines of communication open. Talking more can effectively release a lot of stress for them.
You may also need to find out what is causing the increased distress. Maybe it was an incident that you were not aware of. Or maybe your loved one is stigmatized for sharing something that happened. If you continue to offer support in a compassionate and nonjudgmental way, they may open up.
When you sense that emotional stress is building up in your loved one, it may also be related to a worsening mental health condition, such as general anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder. You will need certain medical knowledge in order to relate his or her deteriorating symptoms with these conditions. The safest way is to encourage your loved one to seek a professional diagnosis for that condition.
The Important Step of Destigmatization
Many people fail to take the initial steps of intervention before a full-blow crisis due to stigma. There are many myths and misconceptions about mental health illnesses. For example, some people think that if a person is diagnosed with a mental illness, that person will display violent tendencies. Or some people associate mental health conditions with moral weakness.
The shame around mental illnesses has prohibited many people from taking initial steps of intervention. But if mental health illnesses are just like physical illnesses, there should be judgment-free medical attention. If you want to prevent a loved one from entering into a full-blown mental health crisis, you need to be proactive in understanding the conditions. You also need to ensure the safety of your loved one. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can support you along the way.
Do you have sufficient knowledge to take the initial steps of intervention? Are you prepared for supporting a loved one in recovery? Mental health crises follow a fairly predictable pattern. You just need the knowledge to detect early warning signs. Early intervention is always key to successful recovery. Instead of suffering in silence, you should seek treatment and begin this healing journey. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help you reach the destination of well-rounded wellness. To learn more about your treatment options or seek guidance as you navigate your first steps, call Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention at (866) 986-1481 today. Early intervention is the smart way to go. Do not delay treatment.