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How can I prepare for a relative's mental health crisis?

Sheri Van Dijk
Psychiatry

If someone you care about has a mental illness, it is a good idea to prepare for a crisis. Keep in mind that this is different than expecting a crisis though - it's always possible that a crisis won't take place, so don't think as though it's inevitable; but it's like any good boy scout - be prepared!

Of course, what a "mental health crisis" is will depend on what kind of mental health problem your loved one has. Some illnesses such as anxiety or depression might impact a person's functioning, but not lead to the need for hospitalization; whereas other mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are more likely to require hospitalization.

Regardless of the type of mental illness, however, it's always helpful if your loved one has a crisis plan - this is a plan that outlines what the person's typical triggers are, what symptoms they might start to experience, what to do if these symptoms do arise, phone numbers of health care professionals, and so on.

At the very least, one of the best things you can do to prepare for this kind of crisis is to ask your loved one, should the need arise, what would they like you to do, and who would they like you to call? Often the person with the mental health problem knows what is most helpful for them in these times. And often, just knowing that you're there to support them and that they're not alone is helpful itself.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.