Types of Mental Health Crisis

Types of Mental Health Crises

A mental health crisis can impact all areas of a person’s life and affect their relationships. Many families around the country struggle to cope with the effects of mental illness every year. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “In 2020, there were an estimated 14.2 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with [serious mental illness].” Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention provides crisis stabilization to help people overcome mental health challenges. We provide clients with the tools they need to heal and successfully recover. 

The Different Types of Mental Health Crisis

People experience mental health issues in different ways and how they manifest depends on many factors, including: 

  • General stress levels 
  • Life skills and ability to cope with stress
  • Access to social support 
  • Ability to practice self-care, including eating nutritious meals and getting quality sleep 

If you have a limited support system, it can increase your risk of experiencing a mental health crisis. Depending on your resources and the tools you have for coping with daily stressors, you may find yourself experiencing the following: 

  • Creeping crisis
  • Slow burn crisis 
  • Sudden crisis 

Each one requires different types of treatments and levels of care. In many cases, a sudden crisis accompanied by acute stress has the worst short-term effect on physical and mental health. 

Creeping Mental Health Crisis 

A creeping crisis usually foreshadows more significant issues that can crop up over time. You may have difficulty coping successfully with everyday stressors and relationship pressures. Some people feel they have little control over multiple areas of their life. Therapy and other treatments can give you essential insights and provide a positive way to decrease stress and regain control of your life. 

Slow Burn Mental Health Crisis

Mental health issues can slowly eat at you over time and leave you unable to cope with your emotional distress. A slow burn mental health crisis does not seem overwhelming at first. In fact, it often involves a build-up of minor stressors that alone would not cause any major mental health issues. However, when combined and left untreated, these small issues can snowball until you hit a crisis point and require professional treatment. 

Sudden Mental Health Crisis 

A sudden mental health crisis often appears without warning and causes extreme emotional distress. Examples of a sudden crisis include: 

  • Injury, illness, or death of a loved one 
  • Divorce  
  • Job loss or financial distress
  • Substance misuse 
  • Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event 

Most people do not have the support system or social skills to get the help they need from close friends and family. Instead, they may become completely overwhelmed and dissociate from the situation partially or entirely to protect themselves from emotional pain. Treatment at a facility like Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention allows you to get the support and coping tools you need to overcome challenging moments. 

How to Prevent or De-escalate Each Type of Crisis 

You can take preventative measures to avoid experiencing a crisis. In addition, you can take steps after one develops to decrease your distress and improve the effectiveness of treatment. Below are some preventative and de-escalation techniques for all three types of crises. 

#1. Creeping

If you start to feel that things are getting a bit difficult or you notice things impact your mental state more than they used to, you can do the following: 

  • Regularly practice self-care 
  • Prioritize a healthy work-life balance 
  • Take care of your mind, body, and soul through healthy habits 
  • Engage in more social activities that you find enjoyable 
  • Remove unnecessary stressors from your life 
  • Establish and maintain clear boundaries 
  • Get assessed by a mental health professional

#2. Slow Burn 

Many minor stressors accumulating over time can create a mountain of emotional distress. You might feel stuck in place with no way out. However, there are things you can do to prevent or de-escalate a slow burn crisis, including: 

  • Identifying triggers and finding healthy ways to avoid or overcome them 
  • Attending self-help groups or other peer support events 
  • Talking to loved ones about your struggles and asking for advice 
  • Remaining mindful of your mental, physical, and spiritual health
  • Avoiding taking on too many responsibilities

#3. Sudden Mental Health Crisis 

Remain calm and try not to catastrophize or spiral into a negative mental state. The most important things to remember during a sudden mental health crisis include the following: 

  • You are not alone, and you can reach out to your support system for assistance 
  • Community-based self-help groups and support services exist for some major life changes like divorce or the loss of a loved one 
  • You can call or text national crisis hotlines to get resources and short-term coping techniques
  • Every crisis feels all-encompassing for the person experiencing it; however, it will pass, and things will get better

How Can Professional Treatment Help? 

Professional mental health treatment can give you the tools to cope with daily stressors or sudden life changes. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “counseling and more specialized psychotherapies seek to change behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and how people see and understand situations.” Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help you find a healthier path forward. Our compassionate team of mental health professionals will help you heal and thrive in recovery.

Anything that causes stress can contribute to a mental health crisis, and there are several different types of crises that exist along a spectrum. A creeping crisis can start if you lose focus and begin to feel negative about your life circumstances. A slow burn crisis often involves a combination of personal and professional or academic pressure that adds up over time and eventually collapses your ability to cope. The final type of crisis, the sudden crisis, can leave people unable to function. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help by providing crisis stabilization and multiple levels of care. To learn more about our programs and services, call us at (866) 986-1481.