When someone we know is going through a mental crisis, it is difficult to know what to do to help. There are many things people tend to do that could make the situation worse, and many simple things that could make the situation better. When a person is upset--unless you are uncomfortable--simply acknowledging what is going on in a kind way and listening to them can help to deescalate the situation. You might just help lighten the person's load enough that they do not continue to spiral.
Or you might be the wrong person for the job. Not everyone has a calming effect on everyone they know. It is okay to acknowledge when you are not right to help someone going through mental health challenges; instead, help them find the right person who can. Remember, when someone is in a crisis, all of their actions are based on protecting themselves, even if it feels personal at times.
At the end of the day, you may be able to help in the moment, but remember that professionals are the ones who need to help people with long-term mental health problems. It starts with primary care providers, who have assessment tools and know how to use them, and who have referral options for the right care. The best support you can give someone, beyond the time of a crisis, is to encourage them to seek help, and be patient in finding someone who is the right fit to help.
On this episode of the Pulse podcast, Dave Roden from Perry's Senior Behavioral Wellness program, and Stefanie Morris from Perry's education department, both certified Mental Health First Aid trainers, discuss how to support someone going through a mental health crisis.