11 actionable steps to take to prevent a mental health emergency
The MIND 24-7 Team | October 4, 2023
When an emergency arises, it is normal to feel out of control. It is also common to want to ensure the experience never happens again. The good news is that mental health emergencies can be prevented, and healing is possible. In this guide, we highlight actionable steps someone can take to prevent a mental health emergency and discuss how to find mental health emergency services.
1. Attend to basic needs
Mental well-being is closely tied to physical well-being. Mental health may suffer if basic needs such as nutrition, sleep, exercise and socialization are neglected. To prevent a mental health emergency, take care to meet these needs and seek help from a professional if it feels too hard to meet them alone.
2. Practice self-care
Self-care is treating yourself to something special that goes beyond meeting basic needs. Spending time watching a favorite movie, eating a favorite meal, working on hobbies, being in nature and getting a massage are all activities people can do to pamper themselves. Activities like these can reduce stress and anxiety and help redirect attention from negative to positive thoughts.
3. Practice coping skills
Coping skills are tools and strategies people can use to improve mood, think more helpful thoughts and interact more effectively with others. There are many coping skills, including gratitude, breathing and grounding exercises. It’s important to practice the skills in calm and happy times so it’s easier to remember them during a time of crisis. Plus, practicing coping skills when a person feels okay actually can help lower the likelihood that a crisis might arise.
4. Learn about mental health
Learning about mental health diagnoses, symptoms, and treatment can empower people and help them feel more in control. Education also helps people understand early warning signs so they can address symptoms before they reach crisis levels.
Volunteering time and skills to help others in need is an effective way to distract from personal stress. This activity allows people to highlight personal strengths and abilities, and put challenges in perspective. Volunteering is a meaningful contribution to the community that can boost confidence and self-esteem. To discover volunteer opportunities in the greater Phoenix area, check out this website or contact local community organizations to see if they need volunteer support.
6. Take prescribed medication
People with prescription psychiatric medication need to follow doctors’ instructions and take medication properly—the right dosage at the right time and in the right way. Skipping medication or stopping altogether can lead to a mental health crisis.
7. Minimize substance use
Avoid alcohol and drug use as they can intensify mental health challenges, make it more difficult to cope and potentially lead to risky situations. If a person finds it difficult to reduce or avoid substance use, they may benefit from professional help.
8. Minimize exposure to triggers
A trigger can be anything that prompts negative emotions or stress. Take note of the things that fall into this category and make efforts to steer clear. Pivot toward experiences and activities that bring peace and joy as much as possible. In cases when it’s not feasible to avoid a trigger, plan ahead to put support in place, practice coping skills and get help if needed.
9. Line up resources
Know whom to call and where to go if symptoms arise. Consider talking to a caring and supportive close friend or family member or a therapist, visiting a psychiatric urgent care center or calling one of the following crisis lines:
- Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741741.
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 988.
- The Trevor Project*: text START to 678-678 or call 1-866-488-7386 or chat online.
*The Trevor Project serves LGBTQIA+ youth.
10. Create a mental health crisis plan
A mental health crisis plan is a guide created when a person is feeling okay so that they, and the people in their life, know what to do if an emergency arises. Anyone can create a customized mental health crisis plan. Here are some items to consider including:
- Descriptions of triggers and symptoms
- A list of coping skills
- Relevant resources and information
- Prescription medications and dosages
- Directions to follow during a crisis
- Names and phone numbers of people in the support network
11. Reach out to mental health emergency services
Need more support? Remember you are not alone and that it is okay to reach out for help. MIND 24-7 strives to make that easy. We currently have several locations open around the clock in the Phoenix area. Our clinics are staffed with licensed mental health clinicians who can see patients immediately. Our doors are always open.
At MIND 24-7, we offer walk-in mental health and substance use services to people of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay. We understand that mental health problems can’t wait four to six weeks to be treated. At the same time, we recognize that most patients don’t want to seek emergency care for their mental health challenges. That’s why we’re here when patients need us—24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Through Express care, we offer walk-in mental health services for patients who want to see a certified professional and quickly be on their way. Through Progressions, we provide ongoing individual and group counseling and peer support for patients for up to 90 days. We also provide walk-in, emergency Crisis care for children and adults.
Before leaving MIND 24-7, our mental health professionals provide patients with clear instructions. That might include follow-up appointments, a medication plan and contacts for additional assistance.To get mental health care in minutes, visit one of our convenient locations or text/call 1-844-MIND247.