What Does a Mental Health Crisis Look Like And How To Cope With It?

4.7% of adults of age 18 years or above reported regular feelings of depression in 2019. Around 11.2% of adults reported regular anxiety and feelings of worry. At least 40% of Americans reported having a 12-month history of a severe mental health crisis. Suspected suicide-related emergencies also rose by 50% among girls aged between 12 and 17 years – Reports. People from different age groups are fighting mental health crises nowadays. If you are still wondering what a mental health crisis looks like, head over to the next paragraph. 

how to cope with mental health crisis

What Is Mental Health Crisis?

Mental health crisis refers to a situation in which you may become a threat to yourself or harm others. It is a particular situation in which you cannot control your emotions and may feel depressed at all times. 

People in such situations cannot take care of themselves and perform their daily routine. Reasons that may lead to the crisis are:-

  • Family disruption or violence
  • End of a relationship with their loved ones
  • Losses of any kind due to death, social exploitation, theft, etc.
  • Worrying about grades or career
  • Peer pressure
  • Stopping of medications
  • Consumption of abusive drugs or excess alcohol 
  • History of family suicidal attempts

4 Types Of Mental Health Crises

Mental health crises can be categorized into four phases. They are:-

  •  Maturational
  •  Situational
  •  Adventitious
  •  Sociocultural

1. Maturational Crisis

A maturational crisis can occur anytime in a person’s transitional period from Childhood to Adulthood. The transitional period between various successive stages requires physical and mental changes. This crisis can develop anytime between the stages when the person cannot relate to themselves, lack adequate resources or communication skills, etc. Concerns that may involve crisis are:-

  • Peer pressure
  • Puberty
  • A relationship involving sexual attachment
  • Exploring career options and choosing one 
  • Getting married
  • Being pregnant or giving birth
  • Leaving home
  • Death of friends or family members

2. Situational Crisis

This crisis often happens when a person suffers from grief or loss of a person, established support, or role. It arises unexpectedly from an outside source, threatening physical or mental state. Some of the examples are:-

  • Unexpected job loss
  • Sudden death of a near one
  • Sudden change in the financial position
  • Family disruption or divorce

3. Adventitious Crisis

This crisis happens due to unexpected circumstances or events not part of a person’s day-to-day life. That can cause a serious mental health crisis because a person doesn’t expect the event, even at the very least. Some events involving adventitious crisis are as follows:-

  • Global pandemics such as Influenza or COVID-19
  • Acts of terrorism such as bomb blasts, plane hijacks, etc.
  • Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, drought, etc. 

4. Sociocultural Crisis

This crisis happens when a disruption or destruction of an individual’s social and cultural beliefs, faiths, and ideologies. It causes a severe impact on that person’s mental well-being, who is firmly attached to his beliefs and traditions.

Symptoms To Look For

It is crucial to note that people may not always show the symptoms of a mental health crisis. Changes in their behavior and physical appearance show after some time. Some of the warning signs to look for in a person are as follows:-

  • Rapid mood swings such as a sudden increase in energy level, feeling depressed, not staying calm and quiet, yelling too much, etc.
  • Extreme lack of energy or sleeping all the time
  • Having suicidal thoughts or saying statements related to death
  • Causing harm to one’s self
  • Experiencing rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Experiencing hallucinations
  • Increased agitation, verbal abuse, neglect, and being short-tempered.
  • Withdrawal from all social connections

It is important to notice and take care of every change in behavior and personality. The symptoms of a mental health crisis can cause them disruption in performing their day-to-day functions and may irritate them further. Keeping track of all these small details can help them seek professional help if needed. 

Things You Should Do In A Mental Health Crisis

You must have understood by now what a mental health crisis looks like. You must also know what to do in such a situation. When a family member or a friend, or a close one suffers from a mental health crisis, they are usually seen off-guard and detached most of the time. The person is usually unsure about the happenings in their life. 

During a mental health crisis, a person may not express his/her feelings and may not understand the ongoing situation. In this situation, It is essential to connect with the person’s feelings and understand them. Make them calm and quiet, which will help in de-escalating their crisis. Some of the techniques to help in de-escalating the crisis are:-

  • Listen to them patiently
  • Always keep your voice calm and never shout at them
  • Give them space and try to understand their feelings
  • Express your support and concern for them
  • Show them you care for them and ask in which ways you can help them

 If you are worried that you or your loved one needs professional level support, then determine the immediacy of the pertaining situation and consequently seek support. There are tons of affordable mental therapy sessions available online to provide the necessary assistance. If the situation becomes worse and gets life-threatening, never hesitate to call 911 and seek the necessary support.  

Things You Should Avoid Doing In A Mental Health Crisis

People have a basic concept and know what they can offer to a person suffering from a mental health crisis. But sometimes, there is a limit to which extent they can help the person. Excess help or showing too much concern can reverse our working situation. These are some don’ts you should keep in mind while assisting the suffering person:-

It is usually believed that people suffering from mental health crises cannot be trusted as they don’t know what will be best suited for them. But this isn’t the reality always. It would be best always to consider making decisions with them, especially when it involves their lives. Carelessness in this regard can cause further traumatization. 

No Blame And Shame

People suffering from crises make choices that may not be best suited for them. But it would help if you never blamed them. Never criticize the person for the choices he makes in his life. What your beloved wants are unconditional love and extended support. Rather than criticizing or shaming them, support them at all stages. 

Never ignore or avoid them

Someone might rarely choose to avoid or ignore the person struggling with a mental health crisis. But people at some point in time may feel too tired of the daily drama and stress they may face every day and start ghosting them. Our loved ones need the support, and leaving them in an already vulnerable state can be more triggering. 

Mental Health Crisis Involving Suicidal Risks

Suicidal attempts are common among people who suffer from mental health crises. People often prefer to live in isolation which further enhances their wish to die. They show a mixture of frustration, sadness, hopelessness, loneliness, guilt, self-hate, etc. You should never ignore any talks related to suicide and take them seriously. Common suicide warnings may include:-

  • Withdrawal from friends, families, or any other social connections. 
  • Sudden change in a person’s behavior, mood, or personality
  • Making or changing one’s will
  • Talking like it’s their last day to live on Earth
  • Suddenly tieing up the loose ends 
  • History of suicidal attempts
  • History of family suicidal attempts

People with suicidal attempts should be taken with utmost care and love. You must make them feel that death is not the only solution, and people are still out there who love them and think for them. A suicide threat or attempt requires a medical emergency requiring professional help as soon as possible. 

Preparing For A Mental Health Crisis

We all do not want to worry about a mental health crisis, but sometimes it cannot be avoided. Some general behavioral changes are:-

  • Lack of sleep
  • Anger
  • Verbal threats
  • Abusive language usage
  • Sudden outbursts

One should always notice these small changes and ask your loved ones to seek medical help. Some people may not always be comfortable talking to a stranger about their mental health issues. They should speak to their beloved ones as they are the ones who will always stand for them. These are some of the tips which may prove to be beneficial if you are ready to prepare for a crisis:-

  • Remove all the sharp objects to create a safe environment near you
  • Understand that this situation will be difficult for your family members, too, and hence, do not cut off the connection
  • Start recognizing early warning symptoms such as lack of sleep, anger issues, mood swings, etc. 
  • Consult a doctor beforehand and start taking medications if said. 
  • Do what your beloved or family says as long as reasonable and safe. 


Mental Health crises cannot be predicted in advance. But one should always take care of their mental well-being. 

Too much stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and depression can lead to serious crises. Not taking enough precautionary measures can further accelerate the situation to suicidal attempts. 

As you already know, what does a mental health crisis look like? Then why not start taking care of our mental health from today only and prevent the crisis beforehand? Activities such as yoga, gym, and running make our body fit and enhance the functioning of our brain. Meditating and listening to music calms our minds and provide a sense of inner peace. 

Practicing self-care activities and praising nature can boost your happiness and help you to see this world as a beautiful place to live in. As Glenn Close once said, “What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversations.”

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