Crisis Response – What to do in an Emergency

A medical emergency is a terrifying thing to be a part of, and a mental health crisis can be as bad if not worse. Having a plan in place for what to do if something goes wrong is a critical step if you want to reduce or mitigate the damage that can be caused by the crisis. We’re going to go through some basic steps and preparations you can do so you’re ready if something happens to you or a loved one.


While it can be uncomfortable to talk about, knowing what may go wrong and how it can happen is the foundational step for everything that follows. Without an accurate understanding of what might happen and the triggers that can cause it, you can’t create a plan. For additional confidence, call or speak to one of our mental health specialists who can help you better understand what’s going on. Once you have a clear picture, go about setting boundaries that will help keep dangerous our harmful stimuli away from you. Recovering alcoholics should avoid attending events where alcohol is served, for example. By planning out where you go and making an effort to reduce your exposure to risks, you can vastly reduce or eliminate the chances of suffering a major event. Secondly, practice saying “no.” It may sound easy, but many people find the peer and social pressure of removing themselves from a harmful situation too great to overcome, so rather than finding yourself stumbling over your refusal, you should practice until you’re comfortable with setting and keeping your boundaries.

What do I do if a loved one is having a crisis?

If you find a loved one is in the middle of a mental health crisis, the response is the same as if they were experiencing a medical emergency. Firstly, call whatever emergency medical services are necessary to help keep them under control and get them somewhere safe. If a loved is injured or otherwise incapacitated your first step should be to immediately dial 911 and request an ambulance, from there you should follow the instructions of the dispatcher. If your loved one is responsive and not in need of immediate medical assistance, then you should attempt to calm them down and speak with them. Don’t make any threatening movements or loud noises, the last thing they need are loud noises or surprises. Speak in a calm, soothing voice and attempt to get them to start a dialogue with you. Make sure that any dangerous objects are kept or moved away from them. Clear out the space they are in so that it’s only the two of you, though if they request that someone else speak to them or that others stay in the room you should accommodate that request if possible. While speaking to them you should attempt convince them to speak with a mental health practitioner or get someone nearby to do so. You can reach our crisis number, which is open 24-7 at 360-423-0203 followed by the number “2.” Our trained professionals will help guide you and your loved one through a crisis. You can also dial our crisis number yourself if you need immediate mental aid.

Michelle Held