Mental Health Urgent Care
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How to Handle a Mental Health Crisis

Published on
July 5, 2024
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When you’re in the middle of a mental health crisis, it can be hard to know what steps to take to get help. You may not know what your options are, and your established healthcare team may not be available when you need help the most. 

We want to offer you a guide on how to handle a mental health crisis. Whether you’re hoping to prepare for future possibilities or you’re in the midst of a crisis and desperate for answers, we want to help you get the exact care you need.  In a mental health crisis, it’s important to remember, first and foremost, that help is available, and there are people in this world who want you to get what you need in this tough time. 

How can you tell a mental health crisis from a mental health emergency?

A mental health crisis is a situation that requires action as soon as possible, but the person experiencing it isn’t in immediate danger of physical harm. Some examples include:

  • New mental health symptoms
  • Worsening mental health symptoms
  • About to run out of medication for a mental health condition
  • Serious life changes (an illness, a breakup or divorce, losing your job, death of a loved one, etc.)

A mental health emergency is a situation where the person experiencing it is in immediate danger. Some examples of mental health emergencies include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or urges
  • Threats or violence against others or themselves
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms from medication or drugs
  • Delusional thinking, hallucinations, or a psychotic episode
  • Catatonia

How to handle a mental health emergency

In a mental health emergency, please get help as soon as possible. Calling 911 is the best option when there’s a chance of immediate harm, as emergency medical personnel can help keep you and your loved ones safe. 

Another option is calling or texting 988. This hotline is set up to support people who are at risk of suicide or self-harm, helping them stay safe. It lets people who are struggling know they aren’t alone, that help is available, and that it can get better.

How to handle a mental health crisis

Tell someone

When you’re in the middle of a crisis, it can be hard to be alone. Even if you feel ashamed or embarrassed about what you’re going through, isolation is not the answer. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, find someone in your life that you trust. If you’re worried you’ll be a bother to them, think about how much you’d be willing to help if someone came to you with this same problem. 

You have people in your life who will care, be they a friend, a family member, a doctor, a community leader. Find someone you know you can trust, and tell that person what you’re experiencing. It’s understandable to be nervous or hesitant in such a tense situation, so here are a few suggestions on how to start that conversation:

  • “Hey, can we talk? My mental health has gotten worse lately, and I could use your support while I try to get help.”
  • “I’m almost out of my medication, and I know it’s not good to miss doses. Can I talk through what I think I should do next with you?”
  • “Losing my job has been really hard on me, and I can tell my mental health is rough. Will you help me look for a mental health urgent care?”

Look for mental health urgent care services

Next, you’ll want to contact a mental health urgent care. Mental health urgent care services, like those offered by Pattern Psychiatry in Texas, Minnesota, and Iowa, will connect you to a mental healthcare provider within  24 hours or less.

Mental health urgent cares are staffed with experienced providers who know how to help in mental health crises. Your provider will listen carefully to what you are experiencing, ask thoughtful questions, and will help connect you to the resources you need.

Be honest about your symptoms and experiences. Your total honesty will get you the best care; these practitioners are here to help, not to judge. They don’t need you to be a picture-perfect patient, all they will ever ask of you is openness so that they can help.

Mental health urgent care practitioners can, at their discretion, provide psychotherapy, prescribe medication, and refer you to services such as therapists, psychiatric professionals for evaluation or medication management, or even residential healthcare treatment options.

Your provider will help you develop a plan for the short term, such as filling a temporary prescription and calling a new therapist. As you follow that short-term plan you’ll work with other providers on a new long-term care plan.

Contact your healthcare team

Once you’ve had your appointment with your mental health urgent care provider, it is a good idea to loop your current healthcare providers, such as your primary care physician and any psychiatrists or therapists you work with, in on your new plan. Let them know what you’ve experienced, and what you will do moving forward to help yourself in this crisis. These providers can help you monitor your progress as you work through your plan, and they may be able to offer additional help both while you’re in crisis, and after you’ve stabilized.

Follow through on your new care plan

While it may seem like getting to the urgent care appointment is the most important part of this journey through a mental health crisis, follow-through is just as critical for your mental health. Once you’ve connected with a mental health urgent care, you will have the plan you need to get help. Follow through on the steps of your plan, and consider asking your trusted loved ones to support you in this part of the process as well.

A mental health crisis is a difficult time in anyone’s life. If you’re seeking help at a mental health urgent care, being open and honest with your loved ones and provider, and taking steps to follow through, you’re well on your way to making it through your crisis and onto a path of healing. 

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If you’re having a medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go to your local ER.