What is a Crisis?
A crisis is when the safety of an individual or others is at imminent risk.
- Crises situations are those that the individual or person(s) providing care cannot resolve without the help of trained professionals
- Mental health crises do not always mean that an individual is a danger to themselves or others
What Can Lead to a Crisis?
- Periods of increased stress
- A time of grieving or loss
- Traumatic events
- Major life changes
- Periods of intense depression
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Anxiety or panic
When Must Action be Taken?
Some indications that action must be taken during a crisis situation are as follows:
- Attempts to harm or kill oneself or indicates a plan to do so
- Threatens to harm oneself or others
- Abuses others physically
- Isolates or withdraws from others more than usual
- Eats or sleeps too much or too little for extended periods of time
- Experiences abrupt onset of psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations
- Exhibiting any other concerning atypical behaviors
Crisis Development Stages
Below are the four basic stages of crisis: pre-escalation, escalation, crisis, and recovery. It is important to understand that adult behaviors can influence the course of a crisis to de-escalate or completely avoid crisis situations. Read one to learn about some strategies that can be used during the escalation and crisis phases.
- Your response will dictate the outcome. Use empathy. Speak calmly and respectfully. Give them time and space. Try humor.
- Assume there is an unmet need. Identify any problems that exist. Offer words that comfort and affirm their feelings.
- Be responsive, not reactive. Offer help, preset options, and reframe the problem and get them to the solution. Set limits in a non-confrontational way and follow through.
- Unless your words are calming, stop talking. Be quite until it’s uncomfortable then be quiet some more. Do not try to rationalize or reason with them.
- Use protective strategies. Calmly remove any items that can be projectiles. Move slowly and deliberately. Keep a reasonable distance.
- DO NOT restrain the individual. This is unlikely to improve the situation or change future behaviors.