What is a Mental Health Crisis?

A crisis is any situation that puts a person at risk of harming themselves or others and/or puts them at risk of being unable to care for themselves or function in a healthy manner. Situations that can lead to a mental health crisis can include stress, physical illness, bullying, failing grades, changes in family situations, exposure to trauma or violence as well as other environmental factors.

While these factors may not be the sole reason for the crisis, they can be triggering events that are especially hard for someone with a mental health illness to manage and leading them to spin out of control and into a crisis.

Signs of a Possible Mental Health Crisis

Mental health crises can present in a variety of ways and there are not always clear or present warning signs.  There is no universal or guaranteed way of knowing that someone is experiencing an emergency or may be driven to attempt suicide.  An awareness of the possible signs, and an understanding of the individual can help de-escalate a situation before it becomes a crisis or possibly prevent a potential crisis from occurring in the first place.

Some of the common signs that someone may be in or close to a crisis include:

  • Difficulty completing everyday tasks like bathing, eating and getting dressed
  • Displaying aggressive behaviour towards others
  • Engaging in impulsive behaviours like self-harm or substance abuse
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family
  • Experiencing extreme changes in mood, sleeping or eating patterns
  • Showing signs of psychosis, such as hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there


Being Prepared for a Mental Health Crisis

A mental health crisis can occur at any time and can be an overwhelming and frightening experience when you are in the middle of it. Creating a Family Toolbox will help you feel more confident and better prepared to support your loved one.