Mental Health Crisis Intervention: When to Call and What to Expect

mental health crisis intervention

Are you worried that someone in your family might need a mental health crisis intervention?

If so, you’re not alone. Although a mental health crisis can affect anyone of any age, consider some shocking statistics about young adults:

  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for ages 12-24.
  • Every day in the US, 3,041 high school students attempt suicide.
  • Four in five teens give clear warning signs before attempting suicide.

If you’re worried about the mental health of a friend or family member, don’t ignore it! In this post, we’ll outline how to stage a successful mental health crisis intervention–before it’s too late.

Signs of a Mental Health Crisis

If your loved one suffers from depression, anxiety, or a similar condition, it may be hard to know when they’re in a slump–or when they need real help.

Here’s a list of clear signs that someone needs emergency mental health care:

  • Rapid or violent mood swings
  • Sleeping all the time or inability to sleep (insomnia)
  • Extreme agitation or prolonged pacing
  • Non-stop or non-sensical speaking
  • Confusion and/or irrational thinking
  • Hallucinations, paranoia, or delusions
  • Threatening themselves or others
  • Physical isolation
  • Noticeable changes in eating habits and weight (loss or gain)
  • Suicidal statements or threats

Keep in mind that these signs and symptoms will vary from person to person. Ultimately, you know your loved one best, so you should be able to determine what’s “normal” behavior for them–and what isn’t.

Who to Call for Help

If your loved one is an immediate threat to themselves (or someone else), you need to stage a mental health crisis intervention right away.

Call 911 and explain the situation–it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Just keep in mind that once the police and paramedics arrive, it’s up to them to decide where to take your loved one.

What if you’re worried about your friend or family member but there’s no imminent threat to anyone? You might contact your local doctor or psychiatrist for help.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide assistance.

If You’re Unsure

What if you’re not sure of your loved one’s feelings or intentions? Are you a parent worried about your child?

Whatever the case, the best thing you can do is ask. You may fear that bringing up the subject could lead to disastrous results. But research shows that talking openly about suicide actually lowers the chance of follow-through.

Start by stating what you’ve noticed about their behavior. Explain that you’re concerned, you love them, and you want to help.

If the responses are vague, you may need to ask the direct question: Have you thought about killing yourself? Depending on the response, you may need to stage an immediate intervention.

Even if you feel there’s no immediate threat, don’t ignore or brush off what your loved one says. Be sure to help them follow up with a doctor, counselor, or therapist.

Mental Health Crisis Intervention: Final Thoughts

Staging a mental health crisis intervention isn’t easy. But it could very well save the life of someone you love.

If you see clear warning signs that your loved one isn’t okay, don’t ignore them. Do whatever’s necessary to support them before, during, and after the crisis.

Click here for a list of resources that can help you in your mission.