Crisis Services



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?

External Factors
  • Periods of increased stress
  • A time of grieving or loss
  • Traumatic events
  • Major life changes
Internal Factors
  • Periods of intense depression
  • A feeling of hopelessness
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Anger

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.

Escalation Strategies

  • 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.

Crisis Strategies

  • 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.

Additional Crisis Resources

Prevent Suicide Wisconsin

This is a resource that contains crisis and suicide prevention lines listed by county across the state.



HOPELINE is the Emotional Support Text Line in the State of Wisconsin and provides service throughout the entire state.

Wisconsin Family Ties
16 N. Carroll St., Ste. 230
Madison, WI 53703

Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1 608.267.6800
Toll Free: +1 800.422.7145
Fax:  608.267.6801

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