Mental Health Crises
Supporting a Person in Crisis
Supporting a Person in Crisis
When someone close has experienced something tragic, he/she may feel the need to talk about it over and over again. Simply being there and listening will help the person close to you to handle the crisis. You can ask the person how he/she is feeling. You should avoid giving straight solutions and rather allow the other to tell about his/her feelings. Talking is a sign that the person in crisis is ready to handle the matter and to share his/her feelings with others.
The most important thing is to contact the person in crisis and to offer your time. Far too often the people close to the person in crisis do not have the courage to face him/her as they are afraid they might say something wrong, for example. However, inappropriate expressions of support are more welcome than the feeling of abandonment and confusion which occurs when the people around the individual disappear right when he/she needs them the most.
Many of those who have experienced crises say that they appreciated the concrete help offered by others. When they are too tired to go to the store, it feels good to cook together with a close friend. Concrete actions, such as cleaning and cooking, allow the chance to discuss the difficult matters on the side.
You can support a person close to you suffering from a crisis:
- by listening
- by being around
- by helping in everyday life
- by maintaining hope
- by showing that you have the time now and in the future
- by helping the person seek professional help, if necessary
Help & Support in a Crisis
Strong reactions and symptoms, as well as feeling that one is going crazy or loosing one’s mind, following the tragic incident, can be scary. Nevertheless, these feelings are common and a part of the so-called normal reaction.
It is important to understand that people handle crises in different ways; however, most people need support from others at some point during the process. Talking about the incident plays a significant part in the recovery process.
When the crisis affects the whole family, it is important that each family member is allowed to talk about his/her feelings, including fears and difficult feelings. If the difficult issues are swept under the rug, the ensuing silence may have a negative effect on the family for many years to come.
A shocking incident experienced by a family member or the entire family may also bring the family closer together. If the family members are able to support each other, giving them the chance to speak about their experiences, the family members may become closer to each other than before. The incident that triggered the crisis may become a part of the family’s own history, strengthening family bonds.
Each family has its own strengths and resources that help in handling crises. For example, some families may have many friends and relatives who may also show support. Some families discuss all matters and seek their own methods of problem-solving and coping. Sometimes children have several things outside the home, such as hobbies or important adults other than their parents, to help maintain their recovery.
People in crisis should consider seeking professional help. It is extremely important to seek outside professional help if you notice that you or someone close to you is suffering from the following symptoms:
- Having trouble sleeping
- Loosing the will to live
- Isolation from friends
- Prolonged troubles in concentration and problems with memory
- Increased use of alcohol or other substances
- Prolonged depression, anxiety and tension
- Nausea, chest pains, other unexplained physical symptoms