This Too Shall Pass: Facing a Mental Health Crisis

Mental health crisisAnyone facing a long-term mental health difficulty may have times where they feel they can’t go on any longer. These are called mental health crisis points. It’s a good idea to think about what can be done to prevent and/or deal with them before they arise. Just as with a physical health problem, there will be times when we can manage our lives effectively and other times when we can’t. Having a plan can help to soften the impact of a mental health crisis and allow you to get back on track more quickly.

What happens during a mental health crisis?

Acute crisis

There are several ways in which a mental health crisis can manifest itself. An acute crisis can occur after the individual has been diagnosed with a severe mental health problem or could signify the first stage in a diagnosable health condition. This may include:

  • Suicidal feelings or behaviours
  • Panic attacks
  • Hallucinations or hearing voices
  • Behaviour which is likely to endanger yourself or others

If any of these symptoms have been experienced, NHS crisis services are available and can respond to the situation quickly.

Other types of crisis

There are other situations in which mental distress is experienced but acute mental health services are not needed. Painful feelings or situations which are difficult to manage can also be classified as contributing to a crisis. These may include:

  • Bereavement
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Depression
  • High levels of stress or anxiety

Even though acute services may not be needed, individuals experiencing this type of mental health crisis may need to access services which they would not need at any other time. This could include support from a GP, counsellor or charitable organisation.

Places to go for crisis support

Telephone helplines

For anyone facing an immediate mental health crisis, The Samaritans are available to give free confidential support 24 hours a day. There are several other national charities such as Sane which are able to give specific support over the phone for anyone suffering a mental health crisis or for a carer.

GP

If you are experiencing a crisis which does not require NHS crisis services to be involved, your GP will be able to help you. They can offer a point of contact to further services should you need them, give advice on possible anti-depressant medications and advise on lifestyle factors which may be affecting your mood.

Counselling & psychotherapy

Counselling can help you to explore the events which lead up to the crisis in a safe and non-judgemental environment. They can also relieve the pressure of any distressing feelings and help you to develop coping techniques to reduce the chance of a crisis happening again. Many people dealing with mental health difficulties find it beneficial to seek counselling as an added measure of support should they face a crisis in the future.

Online support

There is plenty of information available online for those who are facing a mental health crisis, through organisations such as Mind and NHS Choices. Forums and chatrooms also exist to help those dealing with mental distress, however discretion must be used to find a suitable service as not all websites provide helpful support for recovery.

Charities and community organisations

Local organisations can often offer mental health support through providing information, advice and other day services. There may also be immediate support available in a crisis, however many people who live with mental health difficulties also find it beneficial to have other forms of long-term support available.

Can a crisis ever be a good thing?

Although a mental health crisis can feel alarming and overwhelming, it can often signify that something isn’t working or needs changing. This could be something which has been put in place specifically to deal with a health problem, such as a treatment plan. It could also be something which occupies a significant place in an individual’s life, such as a work situation or a relationship.

It is important to manage a crisis carefully and seek support straight away. Counselling can help to explore any factors which may have contributed to the crisis, look at making any changes necessary to prevent a repeat situation and allow the individual to feel confident that they will recover.

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